Checking for breast cancer: Breast self-examination

ANI | Updated: Oct 20, 2017 11:25 IST

New Delhi [India], Oct 20 (ANI): Breast cancer is the commonest cancer seen in Indian women. It contributes to 32 % of women related cancers. 1 in 29 women in India have a life time risk of developing breast cancer.

Though the magnitude of the disease is high, it is a very treatable disease. Breast cancer is one of the few cancers when detected early and treated appropriately, can be completely cured.

Normal life after breast cancer treatment is possible but the pre-requisite is early detection. When detected early, the treatment becomes simpler, shorter and cheaper. And more importantly complete cure is possible. There are certain early detection guidelines, when followed; chances of early detection are very high, when treatment is easier.

It is recommended that women above twenty years do breast self-examination once in a month. Women above 40 years of age should get a mammogram done once a year.

"Breast self-examination takes less than three minutes. It has to be done on seventh day of the periods. However, women who have achieved menopause or have undergone hysterectomy or have irregular periods need to do it on a particular date of the month," says Dr Jayanti S Thumsi, Incharge - Department of Breast Oncology, BGS Gleneagles Global Hospital, Bangalore.

The first step is to stand in front of the mirror with bare body. Observe the shape and size of both the breasts. Look for any obvious swelling. Observe the skin over the breast. Look for dimpling, puckering, redness or scaliness of the skin. Observe both the nipples. They are normally pointing outwards. Check if it has got distorted or inverted, look for nipple discharge. If so, observe the colour of the discharge.

In step two, raise both the hands as the underarm region is a part of the breast. Look for any lumps or skin changes in the arm pit.

In step three, feel your breast while taking a shower with soap on the body.

In step four, lie down with a pillow below the shoulder and keep the hand below the head. Feel the right breast with the left hand and vice versa. Feel both the breasts with flat of the three middle fingers. Feel in the circular fashion starting from the nipple, moving outwards making bigger circles and feel any lump in the breast.

During breast self-examination, if you notice any lump, skin changes or nipple changes, it does not necessarily mean it is cancerous. It certainly means one should immediately seek medical help. (ANI)