LIVING WELL SERIES: Self Breast Exams
Jenna Pentecost Williford, PAC, Primary Care Specialists, LLC discusses the importance of breast self-exams. The American Cancer Society advises, beginning in their 20s, women should be told about the benefits and limitations of breast self-exam (BSE). Women should be aware of how their breasts normally look and feel and report any new breast changes to a health professional as soon as they are found. Finding a breast change does not necessarily mean there is a cancer. A woman can notice changes by knowing how her breasts normally look and feel and feeling her breasts for changes (breast awareness), or by choosing to use a step-by-step approach (with a BSE) and using a specific schedule to examine her breasts. Women with breast implants can do BSE. It may be useful to have the surgeon help identify the edges of the implant so that you know what you are feeling. There is some thought that the implants push out the breast tissue and may make it easier to examine. 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 they are not tender or swollen. Women who examine their breasts should have their technique reviewed during their periodic health exams by their health care professional. It is acceptable for women to choose not to do BSE or to do BSE occasionally. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding can also choose to examine their breasts regularly. Women who choose not to do BSE should still know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to their doctor right away.