A breast self-examination (BSE) is a technique which allows an individual to examine his/her breast tissue for any physical or visual changes. It is often used as an early detection method for breast cancer. Both men and women should perform a BSE at least once each month beginning at age 18.
Best time to do self breast examination is 2-3 days after last menstrual, but if menopausal, pick a day in a month when you will do the self breast examination regularly.
How to properly do BSE:
- Stand in front of a mirror that is large enough for you to see your breasts clearly. Check each breast for anything unusual. Check the skin puckering, dimpling, or scaliness. Look for a discharge from the nipples.
- Watching closely in the mirror, clasp your hands behind your head and press your hands forward.
- Next, press your hands firmly on our hips and bend slightly toward the mirror as you pull your shoulders and elbows forward.
Do steps 2 and 3 to check for any change of your breasts. As you do these steps, you should feel your chest muscles tighten.
4. Gently squeeze each nipple and look for a discharge.
5. Raise one arm. Use the pads of the fingers of your other hand to check the breast and the surrounding area firmly, carefully, and thoroughly. Some women like to use lotion or powder to help their finger glide easily over the skin. Feel for any unusual lump or mass under the skin.
Feel the tissue by pressing your fingers in small overlapping areas the size of a ten centavo coin. To be sure to cover your whole breast, take your time, and follow one of the definite patterns defined below.
- It’s important to repeat step 5 while you’re lying down. Lie flat on your back, with one arm over your head, and a pillow or folded towel under the shoulder. This position flattens the breast and makes it easier to check. Check each breast and the area around it very carefully using one of the patterns described earlier.
- Some women repeat step 5 in the shower. Your fingers will glide easily over soapy skin, so you can concentrate on feeling for changes underneath.