breast-self-examination

Regular self-examination of your breasts will allow you to become familiar with how your breasts feel and look, and to notice any changes. Dr Sophie Genoni, a Women’s Health GP at FitRight HQ, takes us through the Why, Where, How and What of Breast Self Checks.

Written by Dr Sophie Genoni from FitRight HQ. 

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    Why do I need to check my breasts?

    Breast cancer is unfortunately the most common cancer in women in Australia. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
    Although breast cancer is more common over the age of 50, it can occur at any age. This means that women who are not yet eligible for the mammogram screening program should still know what is normal for their breasts and how to check for any changes.
    Whilst there isn't evidence to show that any particular 'self-check' method is most effective in improving breast cancer detection, over half of breast cancers are first diagnosed by a woman or her doctor noticing a breast change - so we know it's still important to self-check.

    Where should I check my breasts?

    You can check your breasts anywhere. It can be helpful to have a mirror to be able to see your breasts from the front. Some women prefer to check their breasts in the shower as the slippery water makes it easier to feel. Some women find it easier to lie down on the bed with one arm behind their head.

    How should I check my breasts?

    There is no right or wrong way for you to examine your breasts, but having a systematic approach can help you to feel confident that you have had a thorough check.

    Self-examination can be done at any time - what is most important is getting to know what's ‘normal’ for your breasts.

    • Looking at your breasts in the mirror allows you to see if there are any visual changes. You can more your arms into different positions to see how to contour of the breast changes with movement (eg hands relaxed by your side, hands on your hips, hands on your head)

    • Feel your breasts, ensuring you cover the entire area of the breast. Did you know that your breast has a ‘tail’ that extends like a teardrop shape towards your underarm? Make sure you cover this area too.

    • Feel your underarms - this is where the lymph nodes for your breasts live.

    What should I feel?

    The most important thing is noticing anything that feels different for YOUR breasts. However it is important to see your GP for any of the following reasons.

    • Any new lumps or bumps in your breasts or underarms

    • Any painful areas of your breast or underarms

    • Any changes to the feel of the skin of your breast, such as puckering, dimpling or thickening

    • Any changes to the appearance of the skin of your nipple or breast, such as redness, irritation or flaking

    • Any changes to your nipple, such as pain or pulling in

    • Any discharge from your nipple

    If you don’t feel confident checking your breasts yourself, your GP can guide you through how to perform self-examination (and they can do a breast check for you in the process!). The GPs at FitRight Women’s Health Centre are happy to guide you through the process of self-examination of the breasts, or see you for any concerns you have about your breasts.

    You can book a Women's Health GP appointment with Dr Sophie or one of our other Women's Health GP's here.

    FitRight

    Perth’s Leading Centre for Women’s Health and Exercise

    Physiotherapy, GP services and physio-led exercise classes specifically for women

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