Breast cancer is one of the top diseases causing death among women. The problem of breast cancer haunts every woman. The cancer is dreaded not only for what it stands, but because of the string of complications it carries along its wake. In such a situation, detecting the onset of breast cancer is of prime consideration because in most cases, by the time the cancer is detected, the disease has spread so much that it may be too late to cure it. Nonetheless, with proper education and better treatment procedures, women have a far better chance combating the disease.
Because breast cancer is a widely dreaded disease, efforts are put in place to help women detect early signs of breast cancer and other forms of breast diseases. One such method used in detecting breast abnormalities is the breast self-examination (BSE). BSE is the process of finding abnormalities in the breast. It involves looking and feeling at both breasts for possible swellings that may be the telltale signs of breast cancer development.
How to Conduct Breast Self-Examination
BSE is performed in front of a mirror with the torso exposed so as to view better the procedure being done. The process involves doing the so-called 7Ps, which are the guide toward a successful breast examination and early detection of breast cancer. The 7 procedures are the following:
1. Position. This involves inspecting both breasts and palpate in the mirror with the arms at various positions to give the woman leverage on the examination at various angles. The examination is first performed lying down with a pillow under one shoulder and then followed by a pillow on the opposite shoulder and then finally lying flat.
2. Perimeter. This means the width with which the examination is done. First, the entire breast is examined, including the nipple and then followed by examining the area extending into the armpit and the nearby lymph nodes.
3. Palpation. This is done by palpating with the pads of the fingers without lifting the fingers as they move across the breast.
4. Pressure. This means the amount of pressure exerted on the breast during BSE. The process involves employing light pressure first, then moderate, and finally heavy pressure.
5. Pattern. There are three patterns available to a woman, whichever she feels most comfortable with. The first pattern is the so-called vertical strip, which involves moving the fingers up and down over the breast. The second pattern is the pie-wedge pattern, which starts at the nipple and then moves outwards. The third pattern is the circular pattern, which involves moving the fingers in circles outward from the nipple.
6. Practice. With the continued practice of conducting BSE, one will get a feel of the breast tissue and enable a woman to detect breast tissue changes.
7. Plan. This means knowing what to do in case changes in breast tissues are detected.
Although 80 percent of growth detected through BSE are non-malignant in nature and may not lead to breast cancer, it is nonetheless wise to report any changes to the doctor to conduct a mammogram.