Breast self-examination is a control carried out by the woman to examine herself physically and visually to detect changes in the breasts or armpits. It consists of a visual examination and palpation to check the appearance of lumps in the breasts and armpits. It also examines changes in the size, shape, and appearance of the skin of the breasts, including areola and nipple.
To perform a breast self-examination, you must stand in front of a mirror and follow a series of steps. First of all, let your arms hang down and turn your torso from one side to the other to see if there is any lump on both the skin and the nipples. At this time, if reddened areas or a texture similar to orange peel are observed, it may be necessary to consult with the doctor.
The next step is to raise the arms to check if the contour of the breasts is uniform and if both are lifted in the same way. Subsequently, each breast must be palpated with the opposite hand using the fingertips and circular movements, starting from the exterior towards the nipple. You have to explore the entire breast following straight lines, either horizontally or vertically. You also have to squeeze your nipples to see if any fluid comes out.
The breast self-examination ends by examining the armpits since most of the tumors occur in the part of the breast closest to it. This part of the examination is performed with the arms lowered.
The possible alterations that are detected with breast self-examination should be a reason for consultation with the doctor.
During the last decades and even today, breast self-examination has been promoted and endorsed as an effective and necessary tool in the fight against breast cancer. Nowadays, there is controversy about whether or not doing this is helpful since some recent studies show contrary results to what was thought before.
These studies show that women who self-examine obtain early detections but they can be benign. That implies the possibility of unnecessary biopsies, increases anxiety, and is a stressful situation.
There will be many women who will be shocked by this scientific evidence. They are those who have detected a lump - doing breast self-examination - have gone to their doctor and have ended up being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. This problem ends up becoming a paradox.
The fact that breast self-examination is not a fully recommended screening method leaves young women, especially those who do not enter the age in which mammograms are recommended, without options.
More research is needed on this topic to affirm whether or not breast self-examination is helpful for women. However, what is certain is that this technique should not be used to replace, but rather to complement, a professional doctor's examination and mammography.
*Please note that we are not in a position to give you medical advice. Every case is different and every woman needs specific care. You can refer to your physici