Breast cancer, as the name suggests, is cancer that develops in the cells of your breasts. It is one of the most common cancers found in women. 

Some common changes that may indicate breast cancer include changes in the size and shape of the breasts, the presence of a lump or thickening that feels different from the surrounding tissues, changes in the overlying skin and any abnormal discharge from the nipples. These changes can easily be detected through regular self-examination of the breasts.

A breast self-exam is a step-by-step method of examining your breasts. It helps detect any abnormalities in your breasts that may indicate breast cancer or other infections. 

Breast self-exams can be performed once a month, by choosing a day that is consistent and easy to remember such as the first day of the month. 

It is better to choose a time after your period so as to avoid any breast tenderness. 

Read on to understand how you can self-examine yourself in 3 simple steps at home. 

Steps For Breast Self-Exam

You don’t need extra time for this as self-examination of breasts can be done in a few minutes while in the shower or before you put on your clothes. 

Step 1: Stand in front of a big mirror with your upper body uncovered. Place your hands on the hip and straighten the shoulder. 

Now carefully look at your breasts and examine their shape, size and colour. Breasts are normally evenly shaped with no visible swelling or distortions.

Most women do not have uniformly shaped breasts and therefore it is nothing to worry about. Check for any bulging, dimpling or puckering of the skin and changes in the nipples. 

If the nipple is pushed inwards or there is redness, soreness or swelling of the breast skin, consult a doctor.

Step 2: Next step is to raise your arms up and look for the same changes while still in front of the mirror. 

Now, have a look at both of your nipples and check whether there is any abnormal discharge from them. 

Any discharge from the nipples that is watery, milky, yellow or blood-stained, could be an alarm sign. If you notice any such signs, make sure you visit your doctor. 

Step 3: Use your right hand to feel the left breast and vice versa. Keep the finger flat and together and use the first few finger pads of your hands to feel the breast. With a firm and smooth touch, move the hand in a circular motion covering a small portion of the breast at a time. 

Continue to examine in this fashion and cover the entire breast from collar bone to top of the abdomen and cleavage to armpits. Finally, feel both of your breasts in a similar way in a standing position. 

Know that 'A stitch in time saves nine!' If you are in your thirties or forties, regular self-exams are important to your breast health. 

However, they do not replace exams and regular screenings recommended by doctors. Therefore, make sure that you visit your gynaecologist at regular intervals. 

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.