Get To Know Your B.S.E (Breast Self-Examination)
Breast Self-Examination (B.S.E) had saved lives.
Learn to know your breasts well.
Early detection lessens complications.
Take action before it’s too late.
Note: Breast Self-Examination is recommended to be performed once each month beginning at the age 20 and continue each month throughout a woman’s lifetime.
The Five Steps Of A B.S.E
Step 1 – Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.
Here’s what you should look for:
- breasts that are their usual size, shape and color.
- breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling.
If you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor’s attention:
- dimpling, puckering or bulging of the skin.
- a nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out).
- redness, soreness, rash or swelling.
Step 2 – Now, raise your arms and look for the same changes.
Step 3 – While you’re at the mirror, gently squeeze each nipple between your finger and thumb and check for nipple discharge (this could be a milky or yellow fluid or blood).
Step 4 – Next, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast.
Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few fingers of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side, from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.
Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast. You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows, as if you were mowing a lawn. Be sure to feel all the breast tissue; just beneath your skin with a soft touch and down deeper with a firmer touch. Begin examining each area with a very soft touch, and then increase pressure so that you can feel the deeper tissue, down to your ribcage.
Step 5 – Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting.
Many women find the easiest way to feel their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, so they like to do this step in the shower. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movement described in Step 4.
Normal Breast Changes
It is important to know what your breasts normally look like and feel like so you can identify any changes as soon as possible. One breast is usually slightly larger than the other. You may also notice that your breasts change throughout your menstrual cycle, and you may notice increased swelling and tenderness before your period starts. You may have breasts that feel lumpy throughout. If both breasts feel this way, this is normal for you.
You may be able to express a clear or milky discharge from your nipple. This may be due to nursing, breast stimulation, hormones or some other normal cause.
If you have small breasts, you may feel your rib as a firm mass through your breast tissue. If you follow the curve of firm tissue, you will be able to tell it’s your rib and not a mass.
Abnormal Breast Changes
Abnormal changes are those that are unusual for you. The color or feel of your breast or nipple may change. This can include wrinkling, dimpling, thickening or puckering or an area that feels thickened.
A nipple may begin to sink into the breasts. A red, scaly rash or sore may be found on the nipple. A discharge (especially if it is bloody) may spontaneously drain from the nipple.
A new lump can be felt in breast tissue. Most lumps are pea-sized. If you find a lump, don’t panic. 8 out of 10 lumps are not cancerous. A lump is most often caused by a cyst, a fibroadenoma, or a generalized breast lumpiness (fibrocystic breast changes), none of which are cancerous.