Breast Self Examination (BSE)
Early detection has been proven to increase survival rates significantly among women diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
40% of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.
Examine your breasts once a month
- The best time to practice BSE is a few days after your menstrual period or the day you begin hormone replacement therapy each month
- Breast self-examination (BSE) is also important in women with breast implants
- Learn how to perform breast self-examination with these simple steps. This involves systematically and regularly checking your own breasts. This will help you to become familiar with the shape and form of your own breasts and to recognize any changes that may occur
- Breast Self-Exams (BSE) helps you to be familiar with how your breasts look and feel, so you can alert your healthcare professional if there are any changes
- NOTE: These steps do not have to be done in order, but all steps should be completed to ensure a proper breast exam
- The procedure for BSE takes only 5-10 minutes, and is best performed standing and lying down. It is no longer recommended to perform the BSE in the shower
- STEP 1 (Standing): Look for Changes — As your arms move, check to make sure both breasts move the same, and that the skin does not dimple or pucker.
Raise arms above head, then place your hands on your hips and bring your elbows forward.
- STEP 2 (Laying Down): Feel for Changes — Place a pillow under your back under the breast you want to examine.
Using the pads of the middle three fingers of the opposite hand (right breast, left hand; left breast, right hand), move your fingers around your breast in either a circular, up-and-down, or wedge motion, and feel for anything that is different than the surrounding breast tissue. Complete the exam by gently squeezing the nipple to check for bleeding or discharge.
What To Look Out For
- A lump, swelling, or thickening in the breast or underarm area
- Changes in the size or shape of one breast
- Puckering or dimpling of the skin of the breast or nipple
- Persistent rash or change in the skin around the nipple
- Recent changes in the nipple, e.g. inversion, retraction
- Any bleeding or unusual discharge from the nipple
- Skin redness or soreness of the breast
- Accentuated veins on the surface of the breast
- Unusual swelling of one upper arm
- Any enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit and collarbone areas
- Contact your health care provider if your exam reveals any worrisome findings, or if you are unsure about how to perform breast self-examination.
- Ref 1 : https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam; Adapted from National Breast Cancer Foundation; Cited on 8th Sep 2019
- Ref 2 : https://www.singaporecancersociety.org.sg/get-screened/breast-cancer/breast-self-examination.html; Adapted from Singapore Cancer Society; Cited on 8th Sep 2019
- Ref 3. http://www.whg-pc.com/webdocuments/gynecology/Breast-BSE4.pdf; Cited on 8th Sep 2019
- Source: https://breast360.org/topics/2015/02/03/breast-self-examination-bse/