The following article is part of a series by Johnston Health in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Following a breast cancer diagnosis, tests are done to determine if cancer cells have spread within the breast or to other parts of the body. The breast cancer stage is based on testing results. The diagram below highlights the stages of breast cancer:
How noticing changes over time can help
Breast self-examinations help women know how their breasts normally look and feel in case of any changes. The goal, with or without breast self-exams, is to report any breast changes to a doctor or nurse right away. Fast action and proactive behavior can help save lives. Here are various ways to conduct a breast self-exam:
In the shower
Fingers flat, move gently over every part of each breast. Use your right hand to examine the left breast, left hand for the right breast. Check for any lump, hard knot or thickening. Carefully observe any changes in your breasts.
Before a mirror
Inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead. Look for any changes in the contour of each breast, swelling, dimpling of the skin or changes in the nipples. Then rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match — few women’s breasts do.
Place a pillow under your right shoulder and put your right arm behind your head. With the fingers of your left hand flat, press your right breast gently in small circular motions, moving vertically or in a circular pattern covering the entire breast. Use light, medium and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for the left breast.
Check back on our blog soon for information on a free upcoming Johnston Health event to promote breast cancer awareness. Register for this event now!