How to do a breast self-examination

All Woman

EVERY woman should know how to perform a breast self-exam (BSE), as this is key to spotting changes in the breasts. Before you start, though, it is important that you know how your breasts normally look and feel, so you can easily detect changes.

You don't have to have a fixed schedule to do your BSE, but it is good to practise doing it regularly, at least once per month. The more you do it, the more aware you will be of your breasts, and it will be much easier to spot if there are any changes. The best time to do your BSE is when your breasts are not tender or swollen, such as a few days after your period ends.

If you happen to feel a lump, don't immediately think that it's the end of the world. Some women have lumpy areas in their breasts all the time. Not every lump is cancerous, but to be on the safe side, bring it to your doctor's attention.

Here are four steps to doing your BSE.

Step 1 — In front of a mirror

Get in front of a mirror. Look at your breasts with your arms at your sides, so you know how they look. Raise your arms over your head, and look for swelling, dimpling, or nipple changes. Next, put your arms akimbo, flex your chest muscles, and again look for dimpling or changes in the breasts.

Step 2 — Shower

In the shower, raise one arm above your head and use the pad of your three middle fingers to gently apply pressure to your breast. Rotate the fingers over your breast and armpit area, feeling for any lumps, thickening or hard knots. Increase the pressure to feel a little deeper for the tissue closest to the chest.

Step 3 — Lying down

This is probably the best method to check for changes, as the breast tissue spreads out evenly when you're lying down. Put a pillow under one shoulder with that arm beneath your head. Use the fingers of the other arm in a rotating motion to check the breast and the armpit. Squeeze the nipple and check for lumps and discharge. Be sure to check the entire breast area going down until you feel only ribs and up to the neck or collarbone.

Step 4 — Be certain what you are looking for

Conducting a BSE is not effective unless you know just what you are looking for. Any signs of the following are red flags, and a doctor should immediately be consulted:


•Bulging of the skin

•Inverted nipple — pushed inward instead of sticking out

•Redness, soreness, rash or swelling

•Any signs of fluid — be it watery, milky or bloody.

Individuals may also go to the Jamaica Cancer Society for help, and if diagnosed with cancer, the Hope Institute in Mona is a public cancer hospital that can provide adequate care.

Note that from October 1 to 31, through Black Ink Marketing and Event Solutions Limited, the following locations will be offering discounted rates for breast cancer screening:

Precision Imaging Centre

15 Caledonia Avenue, Kingston 5

Pines Imaging Centre

Shops 57 & 58, Portmore Pines Plaza,

Portmore, St Catherine


Lot/Apt 2 Spring Estate

PO Box 2520 Half Moon,

Rose Hall, Montego Bay,

St James

Island Radiology Limited

Shop 4, Oasis Plaza, Santa Cruz,

St Elizabeth

Island Radiology Limited

Lot 18, Caledonia Mall

Mandeville, Manchester

Island Radiology Limited

Unit 10, Eight Rivers

Town Centre, Ocho Rios,

St Ann

DanHope Radiology Services

15 Ardenne Road, Kingston 10

Radiology West Diagnostic Imaging Services

34 Market Street, Montego Bay

Radiology West Diagnostic Imaging Services

Unit 5, G West Centre,

Lot 6 Crane Boulevard,

Bogue Estate, Montego Bay.




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