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.
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.
Enlarge picture
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
Enlarge picture
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 ?
Countries with few resources should include, at the very least, culturally appropriate public education on breast health that explains why early detection through breast self-exam is important, along with quick diagnosis with clinical breast exams (CBE).
Pink Minute is part of Avon's Promise to End Breast Cancer, and encourages women to know the risks, see the signs and act by doing the breast self-exam.
Director of Social Affairs Issam al-Hussein said that the Directorate, in cooperation with a number of associations, carried out a series of awareness activities for the early detection of breast cancer, which brought together dozens of women participating in the promotion of a culture of health awareness and the importance of the breast self-exam and periodic health checkup for women.
"Ensuring that no woman is left in the dark when it comes to breast cancer begins with reminding women to make breast self-exam a natural part of their daily routine," Avon Philippines general manager Razvan Diratian says.
IT only takes a minute to perform a breast self-exam, but the effort will save thousands of lives in the long run.
While shedding light on the importance and procedure of self-examination, the experts said that a woman should give herself a thorough breast self-exam at least once in a month.
Other activities lined up for the day include: A boot camp by Fitness First; a breast cancer awareness and breast self-exam talk by American Mission Hospital medics; a pink care yoga session at the gravity outdoor gym; and a boot camp exclusive for women by Sarah Lawson.
TABLE 2: Odds ratios derived from multivariate logit models for having a mammogram, breast self-exam, Pap smear, or prostate cancer screening (Health and Retirement Study data, 1996-2008).
For that purpose it has launched a mobile app, and on its website it gives tips and reminds women about the date for making their breast self-exam in order to prevent or have early detection of cancer, thus contributing to preventing deaths for this cause.
Women who are menstruating regularly must do the breast self-exam 2-5 days after the last day (when normal premenstrual swelling is gone), while those no longer menstruating regularly can choose a specific day of the month to do the examination.
* R5: How much do young adults know about breast self-exam and mammography?
Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends against teaching breast self-exam and concluded there was insufficient evidence to assess the benefits/harms of the clinical breast exam.