breast self-examination

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Breast Self-Examination

 

Definition

A breast self-examination (BSE) is an inspection by a woman of her breasts to detect breast cancer.

Purpose

A BSE is one of three tests the American Cancer Society recommends to help detect breast cancer in its earliest stages. By regularly examining her own breasts, a woman is more likely to find any changes that may have occurred. The best time to perform a BSE is about a week after a woman's period ends, when her breasts are not tender or swollen. If her periods are not regular, a BSE should be completed on the same day every month. A BSE should also be regularly completed by women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have breast implants. By combining a BSE with a mammography and clinical breast examination, a woman is offered the best opportunity for reducing chances of death from breast cancer through early detection. Close to 90% of breast cancers are found through a BSE. The American Cancer Society recommends that beginning at the age of 20, women complete a BSE each month by feeling for lumps or anything suspicious, as well as looking at their breasts carefully in a mirror for any changes in contour, swelling, dimpling, puckering of the skin, or changes in the nipple.

Description

To complete a monthly BSE:
  • When lying down, place a pillow under the right shoulder and position the right arm behind the head. Using the finger pads of the three middle fingers on the left hand, check the entire breast area. Use small circles and follow an up-and-down pattern while pressing firmly enough to know how the breast feels from month to month. This exam should then be repeated on the left breast using the finger pads of the right hand with the pillow under the left shoulder.
  • When standing before a mirror, any changes in the shape or look of the breasts should be checked. In order to look for any skin or nipple changes such as dimpling or nipple discharge, the arms should first be placed at the sides and then overhead. Hands are then placed firmly on hips to flex chest muscles, and then the body should be bent forward.
  • When taking a shower, the right arm should be raised. By using soapy hands and fingers flat the right breast and outer part of the breast can be examined. The same small circles and up-and-down pattern used when lying down should be used in an upright position. Repeat on the left breast.

Preparation

Before beginning a monthly BSE, a woman's breasts should be completely exposed.

Normal results

Each woman's breasts has their own normal look and feel. By completing a BSE each month, a woman can determine what is normal for her and check for changes that may arise. A regular pattern of lumpiness in the breasts is normal.

Abnormal results

If any changes are noticed during a monthly BSE, such as a new, hard lump in the breast or underarms, a doctor should examine the area immediately. Other trouble signs that should not be ignored include:
  • change in breast size or shape
  • dimpling or puckering of the skin
  • redness, swelling, or warmth that does not go away
  • a pain in one area that does not vary with a woman's monthly cycle
  • a nipple that pulls in
  • discharge from the nipple that begins suddenly and appears only in one breast
  • one nipple that has an itchy, sore, or scaling area

Resources

Books

Altman, Roberta, and Michael J. Sarg. "Breast Self-examination." The Cancer Dictionary. Checkmark Books, 2000.

Organizations

American Cancer Society. 1599 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30329. (800)ACS-2345. http://www.cancer.org.
Komen Foundation. 5005 LBJ Freeway, Suite 250, Dallas, TX 75244. (972) 855-1600. http://www.komen.org.

Other

"How to do a Breast Self-Exam." Women.com. May 5, 2001. http://www.women.com.

breast self-ex·am·i·na·tion (BSE),

(brest self-ek-zam'i-nā'shŭn),
Procedure by which breasts and accessory anatomic structures are observed and palpated to detect changes or abnormalities that may indicate the presence of malignancy. It is recommended that women undertake breast self-examination once a month. Nurses and other health care professionals play an important role in teaching women to perform this procedure correctly.

breast self-examination (BSE)

The periodic—e.g., once monthly—palpation by a woman of her own breasts, to detect new growths

breast self-examination

Public health The periodic—eg, once monthly palpation by a ♀ of her own breast, to detect new growths; although there is little evidence of the effectiveness of BSE, it is the only means by which neoplasms can be detected between exams by health care personnel

breast self-ex·am·i·na·tion

(BSE) (brest self'eg-zam'i-nā'shŭn)
Procedure by which breasts and accessory anatomic structures are observed and palpated to detect changes or abnormalities that may indicate the presence of malignancy. It is recommended that women undertake breast self-examination once a month. Nurses and other health care professionals play an important role in teaching women to perform this procedure correctly.
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BREAST SELF-EXAMINATION: Inspection
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BREAST SELF-EXAMINATION: Inspection
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BREAST SELF-EXAMINATION: Inspection
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BREAST SELF-EXAMINATION: Inspection
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BREAST SELF-EXAMINATION: Palpation
Enlarge picture
BREAST SELF-EXAMINATION: Palpation
Enlarge picture
BREAST SELF-EXAMINATION: Palpation

breast self-examination

,

BSE

A technique that enables a woman to detect changes in her breasts. The accompanying illustration explains the specific steps to be followed. The examination should be done each month soon after the menstrual period ends because normal physiological changes that may confuse results occur in the premenstrual period.
See: illustration; mammography

breast self-examination

An important method of screening for breast cancer, which should be performed regularly by every woman. It includes a visual check, using a mirror, for any change in the appearance, and careful palpation for lumps, with the flat of the hand.
References in periodicals archive ?
However she should start regular clinical breast exam and self-exams earlier.
A clinical breast exam is an examination of a patient's breasts by a health professional such as a doctor and/or nurse.
Women from ages 20 to 39 are recommended to have a clinical breast examination by a health professional every three years and a breast exam and mammogram every year.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women with dense breast tissue undergo a clinical breast exam at least every three years starting at age 20, and a mammogram every year starting at age 40.
The study gives longer follow-up on nearly 90,000 women who had annual breast exams by a nurse to check for lumps plus a mammogram, or the nurse's breast exam alone.
New York, October 25 ( ANI ): A new 'Tweeting Bra' has been designed to send breast exam reminder each time it is unhooked, to promote breast cancer awareness in Greece.
Planned Parenthood and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend a clinical breast exam as part of a well-woman visit every one to three years for women ages 20 to 39, and every year for women 40 and older.
The lectures will be delivered by educators trained by JBCP, and will cover topics including early detection methods by teaching the attendees how to properly perform a self breast exam and encouraging them to undergo regular clinical breast exams and mammograms, according to their age, relative risk and doctor's recommendations.
Clinical breast exam by a health expert is also recommended annually for women age 40 and older as an important tool for breast cancer screening and early detection (15).
Self breast exam should be performed a minimum of one time monthly.
Lloydspharmacy found that only a third of women who actually do a self breast exam include vital areas such as under the armpit.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans of women who were diagnosed with cancer in one breast detected over 90 percent of cancers in the other breast that were missed by mammography and clinical breast exam at initial diagnosis, according to a new study.