There is nothing anyone can do to prevent breast cancer. Unfortunately, women are diagnosed every day with the disease, many of whom had no idea there was an issue. And while breast cancer affects women more than men, men are still at risk. Though the disease cannot be prevented, it can be treated more effectively when detected in its early stages.
Early detection is often the best chance a person has of survival. The early breast cancer is detected, the less chance it has to spread. One of the first steps in detecting cancer is through a self-examination. Here is what you should be doing.
Check Every Month
Pick a day that you will remember. For many men and women, this is the first or last day of the month. There are three steps to a self-exam that you should perform every month on the same day.
1. In the Shower
While you are in the shower, use the pads of your fingers to feel your entire breast. Begin from the outside and move your fingers in a circular pattern toward the center of your breast. Be sure that you are checking your entire breast as well as your armpit. If you feel a thickening, a knot or a lump, alert your doctor.
2. In Front of the Mirror
While you are looking at yourself in the mirror, closely examine your breasts with your eyes. Do so with your hands at your sides and again with your hands above your head. Look for any dimpling in the skin, swelling or change in contour. When you are done, place your hands on your hips and flex your chest muscles. Look again for any changes.
3. Lay Down
Lie down flat on your back. Put a pillow under your right shoulder and put your right hand behind your head. Use your left hand and run your fingers over your breast and armpit area just as you did in the shower. Squeeze your nipple, looking for any discharge. Complete this on the opposite side of your body.
It’s important to understand that no person should rely solely on self-examination. A mammogram can detect changes to the breast before they are seen or felt. A self-exam is to be utilized in combination with appropriate medical screenings and care. If you do notice any changes to your breasts during a self-exam, alert your medical care provider as soon as possible. He or she will schedule you for an exam and any further testing that is warranted.
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