Over the years there has been some debate over the effectiveness of breast self-exams, or BSEs, is effective. Some argue that these exams also may put women at risk - increasing the number of potential lumps found due to uncertainty as to what is being felt in the breast. This can lead to unnecessary biopsies. Others feel that a BSE is a good practice, considering that roughly 20 percent of breast cancers are found by physical examination rather than by mammography, according to BreastCancer.org. For those who are interested in conducting self-exams, here is the proper way to do so.
* Begin with a visual inspection of the breasts. Remove clothing and stand in front of a mirror. Turn and pivot so the breasts can be seen at all angles. Make a note of your breasts' appearance. Pay special attention to any dimpling, puckering or oddness in the appearance of the skin. Check to see if there is any change in symmetry or size of the breasts.
* Continue the examination with hands placed by the hips and then again with your hands elevated overhead with your palms pressed together.
* Physical examination: This can be done either by reclining on a bed or the floor or any flat surface. The exam also can be done in the shower. To begin examining the breasts, place the hand and arm for the breast you will be examining behind your head. Use the pads of your pointer, middle and ring fingers to push and massage at the breast in a clockwise motion. Begin at the outer portion of the breast, slowly working inward in a circular motion until you are at the nipple. Be sure to also check the tissue under the breast and by the armpit. Do the same process on both breasts. Note if there are any differences from one to the other.
It is a good idea to conduct a BSE once a month and not when menstruating, when breasts may change due to hormone fluctuation