Thursday, May 7, 2009

DIY: How To Do A Breast Self Examination

How to Do a Breast Self Examination

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Breast cancer is the most common disease and the second leading cause of cancer death among women. This year more than 211,000 new cases of breast cancer are expected in the United States. Of this number, 1,600 will be men, and 400 are predicted to die from the disease. Seventy percent of all breast cancers are found through breast self-examination. When breast cancer is detected early the five-year survival rate is 96%. By performing the following self-examination steps, you may detect any changes in your breasts early.


In The Shower

  1. Fingers flat, move gently over every part of each breast. Use your right hand to examine left breast, and left hand for right breast.
  2. Check for any lump, hard knot or thickening.
  3. Carefully observe any changes in your breasts.

In Front of a Mirror

  1. Inspect your breasts with arms at your sides.
  2. Raise your arms high over your head. Look for any changes in the contour of each breast, such as a swelling, a dimpling of skin or changes in the nipple.
  3. Place your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Your left and right breasts will not exactly match - few women's breasts do.

Lying Down

  1. Place a pillow under your right shoulder, place your right arm behind your head.
  2. With fingers of left hand flat, press right breast gently in small circular motions, moving vertically or in a circular pattern covering the entire breast. Use light, medium and firm pressure.
  3. Squeeze nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.


  • Breast tissue is found all the way from the nipple to under the armpit. Be sure not to neglect checking along the side of your chest, as well, as it is still, technically, part of your breast.
  • If you are wondering what to include in an early detection plan, here are some tips.
    • Do monthly breast self-exams starting at age 20.
    • Have a breast exam at a medical facility every three years from age 20 to 39 and every year from age 40.
    • Have a baseline mammogram by age 40.
    • Depending on the results of the mammogram, women 40 to 49 should have one every 1 -2 years.
    • Women 50 and older should have a mammogram every year.
    • Keep a record of your self examinations, mammograms and doctor visits.

Other checks for women

  • The other part of the body women must check is their outer genital area. It is as just as easy as examining the breasts. This area is called the vulva and there is a such thing called vulvar cancer and to report any lumps, sores or anything which aren't feeling normal or right, to the doctor no matter how little it is. Another word for the vulva is the labia.

Treatments for vulvar cancer
  • Biopsy
  • Surgery to remove part/all of the vulva - This is called vulvectomy. Vulvectomy comes in different types, shown below
  • Skinning vulvectomy - Removal of the top layers of the vulva only.
  • Simple vulvectomy - Removal of the whole vulva only.
  • Radical vulvectomy - Removal of the whole vulva, plus the lymph nodes on both sides of the groin
  • Partial vulvectomy - Removal of part of the vulva/one side of the vulva only.
  • Radiotherapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Extensive female surgeries e.g. pelvic exenteration can sometimes include vulvectomy (vulva removal)


  • Breast cancer risk is higher among women who have a mother, aunt, sister or grandmother who was diagnosed before age 50.

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Do a Breast Self Examination. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.


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