A breast self-exam, or BSE, is one of three tests that doctors recommend to screen for breast cancer. By performing these exams on a regular basis, you will learn to recognize the changes in your breast that could signal the beginnings of breast cancer. The breast tumor's size and extent of spread are the two most important factors in determining a prognosis, or outlook. The earlier that breast cancer is discovered, the better your chances will be for treatment and cure.
Every woman, even if she is breastfeeding or has implants, should do a regular breast exam. The best time to perform a BSE is about a week after your period, when your breasts are less swollen and tender. If you are not having regular periods, then pick a day each month for a BSE and do it that same day every month. Routine examination will allow you to recognize what feels normal and what does not so that you will be able to detect any signs of cancer early.
The best time to do a monthly self-breast exam is about 3 to 5 days after your period starts. Do it at the same time every month. Your breasts are not as tender or lumpy at this time in your monthly cycle.
If you have gone through menopause, do your exam on the same day every month.
Over 1.3 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every year. Some 51,000 of those cases are melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. When caught early, all skin cancers, even melanoma, are curable. Monthly skin exams will help catch early symptoms of skin cancer.
An important part in being aware of your breast health is making sure that you are performing regular breast self-examinations. While you’re in the shower or before bed, a few simple steps can be taken to check for breast abnormalities and to become familiar with your breasts so you can recognize breast problems should they occur. Your self-exam should occur a few days after your menstrual cycle ends to assure the breasts are not tender or swollen.
Learning the ABCD's of skin care
The ABCD rule can help you distinguish an ordinary mole from an abnormal one.
· Asymmetry: One half of the mole does not match the other half.
· Border irregularity: The edges of the mole are ragged or notched.
· Color: The color over the mole is not the same. There may be differing shades of tan, brown, or black, and sometimes patches of red, blue, or white.
· Diameter: The mole is wider than 6 millimeters (about ¼ inch) although in recent years doctors are finding more melanomas between 3 and 6 millimeters.
Competence of performance has been shown to affect the efficacy of the self-examination. Most studies on BSE value, however, did not assess the examiner's competence. Because data obtained elsewhere show that most women performing BSE do not perform it competently, the significance of the positive evidence on BSE value is heightened. Most breast tumors are self-discovered, and encouraging competent BSE performance will give more women better means to discover tumors earlier.
LINUS PAUL RN
(Nursing World Nigeria Contributor)
1. Breast self-examination: historical perspective and current progress by Eggertsen SC, Bergman JJ.
2. WHO, 2016
3. Midline plus, 2018