AMBERHEART

BREAST CANCER FOUNDATION

 

Early Detection

    

There are three important methods, which applied together, help to detect breast
cancer early:


• Breast self-examination (BSE)
• Clinical breast exam CBE (breast exam by a doctor or nurse)
• Mammogram (X-ray of the breast)

 

What you should know about BSE


Many tumours are discovered by women – during baths, while turning over in bed, while in the shower or during sex. In fact, around
forty percent of breast cancers are discovered by women or their partners. In order to decrease the risk of randomly discovering a tumour, which has achieved a large size, it is good to attain a minimum level of knowledge regarding one’s own body. Breast Self-Examination (BSE) is an effective method of caring about your health that is always at hand.

 

Unfortunately, mammography, which has been a standard tool for breast cancer screening for many years, according the new research is neither fail-safe nor risk-free. Until a safe, foolproof and accessible screening method for breast cancer can be developed, self-exams are an irreplaceable element in the early detection tool kit.


From a psychological point of view, BSE gives women the power to decide what is best for them health-wise and therefore serves to increase self-esteem. Being informed and prepared for how to deal with the disease, promoting prevention by being informed of risk factors, being aware of diagnostic and therapeutic options as well as learning proper BSE techniques, collectively, form a sort of  “protective bubble”. One should be aware that the effectiveness and usefulness of BSE depends on learning the proper method and skills allowing to distinguish between what, in your breast, is normal and what is not.

 

Ideally, the method should be demonstrated for the first time, by professionally trained medical personnel during your annual clinical breast exam.

 

Approaching BSE as a specific type of exercise rather than a complicated, scary diagnostic procedure, will make becoming skilled in examining your breasts much easier. Even if your doctor regularly examines your breasts, chances are this occurs only once a year. The same goes for screening mammography. The advantage of BSE is that you can perform it yourself as often as you wish – ideally once a month.
 

This is not an attempt to convince you that BSE is a universal or superior method of diagnosis to mammography or clinical breast examination but the recommendations should be treated as a self-teaching guide, which stresses that it is never too late to learn, particularly if the skills attained serve to enhance your health.

 

Besides possibly helping you to discover a tumour, getting into the routine of systematic, monthly BSE performance also increases your awareness of the disease.

 

In order to increase your chances of survival, it is a good thing to take matters “into your own hands” and learn a new skill, which may one day save your life.

 

Breast Awareness and Self-Examination

Beginning in their 20s, women should be told about the benefits and limitations of BSE. Women should be aware of how their breasts normally feel and report any new breast change to a health professional as soon as they are found. Finding a breast change does not necessarily mean cancer is present.

 

Each woman's breasts are different, and some changes can occur because of aging, the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, menopause, or taking birth control pills or other hormones. It is normal for the breasts to feel a little lumpy and uneven.
The differences in nodularity and breast consistency related to hormone levels require comparing the structure of both breasts in the identical spot and position to verify if they are similar.

 

Women can notice changes by being aware of how their breasts normally feel and feeling their breasts for changes (breast awareness) or by choosing to use a step-by-step approach ( Patients) and using a specific schedule to examine the breasts (breast-self examination BSE)

If you choose to do BSE, the following information provides a step-by-step approach for the exam. The best time for a woman to examine her breasts is when the breasts are not tender or swollen. Women who are pregnant, breast-feeding, or have breast implants can also choose to examine their breasts regularly.

 

The most effective way to find a change in your breast is by using your own fingers. You don't need a breast self-examination pad or any other type of aid to examine your breasts. 

The procedure, we would like to present, for doing breast self-exam is different than previous procedure recommendations. It is also recommended by the American Cancer Society                        

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disclaimer

updated: 2011

©  Amberheart Breast Cancer Foundation