A Few Minutes towards Healthier Breasts
Prevention is always better than cure.
Self-examining your breast takes just a few minutes but may play a great role in preventing future worries. We would not want to detect a breast lump when it is in its advanced stage now, would we?
Most lumps are detected through accidental findings by women themselves. Although a number of professionals are of the view that breast self-examination has its own disadvantages, this examination helps train one to be more sensitive to any slight changes of appearance of one’s breasts. If every woman were to carry out this examination, the percentage of surgical removal will surely be lower.
Breast self-examination is not at all difficult.
It starts with only looking at your breasts in front of your mirror. Note the normal appearance of breasts, their size, color and symmetry. Normally the left breast is slightly larger than the right. Knowing how your breasts normally look like will make it easier for you to note any slight changes, even though changes may be found in the first week after your menstruation starts. During this period, breasts tend to enlarge slightly and be a little tender. This is explained by the hormonal changes which prepares your body for pregnancy and lactation. This is a natural occurrence in every woman. Thus, breast examination is less confusing and painful when done a week after menstruation.
Palpation of your breasts (feeling them with your fingers) is best done while lying down. In this position, the breasts spread over your chest which makes it even easier to detect mild changes. Using the whole length of the 3 middle fingers of your right hand, palpate your left breast; first with little pressure to detect any changes close to the surface, then apply moderate pressure and then slightly more pressure, though not to an extent that it gives pain or discomfort. This is done in a circular pattern, either clockwise or anti-clockwise motion, starting from the nipple right up to the sides below your armpits. The same procedure is repeated on the right breast with your left hand.
Lumps are of different sizes, consistency, surface and mobility. Some may be singular while others may occur in groups. One in eight lumps detected are non-cancerous. If you find any small soft lump with smooth surface and moves a little, this is most probably a cyst (fluid-filled bubble-like sac) or an abscess (an infected cyst), the latter being accompanied by pain, tenderness and sometimes fever. One which easily slips off your finger during examination is most probably fibroadenoma (this is a lump which, unlike cysts, is filled with fibrous tissue, and is therefore slightly harder).
Cancerous lumps are mostly hard, firm, adheres to the skin (therefore not mobile) and may show skin changes (skin over the lump resembles orange peel). In advanced stages, these lumps are accompanied by pain and bloody discharge through the nipples. The nipple sometimes is turned inwards if the lump is somewhere near.
Examine your breasts regularly, be it by yourself or by Our Doctors; once a month will be reasonable. If you find a lump of any kind, be sure to consult Our Doctors.
Need more advice?
1.) Robertson Walk (Anonymous HIV Clinic) (+65 6238 7810)
2.) Bencoolen Street (+65 6884 4119)
3.) Novena Medical Centre (+65 6397 2095)
4.) Scotts Medical Centre (+65 6694 2348)
5.) Somerset – Orchard Building (+65 6262 0762)
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