The Importance of Breast-Self Examinations

Performing regular breast-self exams are crucial to being more aware of your breast health and becoming familiar with your breasts so that if you feel any abnormalities, they’re more likely to be treated successfully.

What is a breast self-exam?

A breast self-exam is a useful, no-cost screening tool for you to determine any abnormalities in the breast tissue, and they can be done at any age. You can perform a breast examination by looking at and feeling your breasts regularly for any abnormalities in the shape and size along with any lumps or bumps.

The 3 basic steps when performing a breast self-exam are:

  • Visual inspection without a shirt or bra, while standing in front of a mirror.
  • Manual inspection while standing up.
  • Manual inspection while lying down.

Why should I do breast self-exams?

Purely for breast awareness, to help you understand the normal consistency of your breast tissue so that you’re able to pick up any changes as soon as possible and report them to your GP or Gynae. The best time to perform a breast self-exam is 3-5 days after your menstrual cycle ends.

The benefits of self-breast examinations

Studies have shown that a breast self-examination or a breast cancer self-exam can be a beneficial factor in detecting cancer in women with a higher-than-usual risk of developing breast cancer.

  • Breast health awareness.
  • Early detection of breast cancer.
  • More likely to be treated successfully.

How long does a breast self-exam take?

Firstly, a breast self-exam should be done monthly and should only take you a few minutes. This can become part of a regular routine whether you’re lying in bed, taking a shower or getting (un)dressed.

When to call a doctor after a breast self-exam

You should make an appointment with your doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • A hard lump or knot near your underarm
  • Changes in the way your breasts look or feel, including thickening or prominent fullness that is different from the surrounding tissue
  • Dimples, puckers, bulges, or ridges on the skin of your breast
  • A recent change in a nipple to become pushed in (inverted) instead of sticking out
  • Redness, warmth, swelling or pain
  • Itching, scales, sores, or rashes
  • Bloody nipple discharge