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There is a rising trend in breast cancer worldwide. The alarming fact is that since 2008, the incidence breast cancer has increased by more than 20 percent, while mortality has increased by 14 percent in 2012. Breast cancer is now also the most common cause of the cancer deaths among women, representing one in four of all detectable cancers in women.  

As you'll see from those facts, breast cancer screening is invaluable.

Though the most effective way of screening for breast cancer is an breast X-ray called mammography, clinical breast self-examinations are considered to be a similarly effective option for the early detection of any breast lump. This means you have to palpate your own breasts regularly to feel if any lump is developing. 

You have to start practicing breast self-examinations from your early twenties, and need to examine your both breasts periodically during the middle of your menstrual cycle — in a systematic manner.

How To Perform Breast Self-Examinations

Start looking at both your breasts by standing in front of the mirror and putting your both hands over your hips.

  • Look for a change in size, shape or the contour of the breast. Compare both sides.
  • Look for any deviation or retraction of your nipple. Compare both sides.
  • look out for any skin changes over the breast or venous prominences.
  • Is there any obvious lump or swelling on any quadrant?
  • Inspect for any nipple discharge.

Any swelling or change in contour may be due to any growth in your breast. The nipple can be asymmetric in position, may be pulled to one side, or could be retracted grossly. These types of asymmetry need urgent attention. Apart from during pregnancy, any form of nipple discharge is also suspicious.

Proceed to palpate your both breasts to feel any lump or growth. Palpation of the breasts should be commenced while lying down.

Try to feel the whole breast tissue by pressing it over your chest wall with your whole hand palm, rather than individual fingers. Employ your right palm to palpate your left breast, and the reverse. Try to feel any lump by moving your palm systematically either in a clockwise or an anticlockwise manner. Be sure that you have palpated the whole breast and the whole thickness. You have to reach up to your axle laterally and should feel your rib cage following a deep palpation. With an effective palpation, you should be able to detect any swelling or lump growing inside your breast which is not apparently visible.

Now, try to feel the whole breast again, but in standing position. You should do the palpation in a same manner as described before.

Does Any Lump In Your Breast Mean You Have Cancer?

No, it does not. Do not panic if you feel any mass or lump in your breast. Not all masses are cancers, and fortunately the majority of breast masses are benign. They can either be cysts or proliferated normal breast tissues which are usually benign in nature. 

You do need to visit your physician if you experience a lump. You may need a mammography, an ultrasound, or if the lump is found suspicious, a fine needle biopsy of your growth.

So, to conclude, an early diagnosis is essential for a breast cancer as it always carries a better outcome. A regular, systematic self-palpation of  both breasts is the easiest, most effective as well as a convenient approach to screen your breasts before developing a breast cancer.

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