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Breast self-exam: Why is it important?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Meenu Bansal 89% (10 ratings)
DGO, MBBS, FOGSI
Gynaecologist, Ahmedabad  •  22 years experience
Breast self-exam: Why is it important?

Medical science recommends that women should undergo regular checkups of their breasts in a bid to preserve health and ensure a certain quality of life. However, it has been observed that most women are not aware of the breast self-examination routine.

Here a question arises: how well does a woman know her breasts?

When women are checking for something severe like breast cancer, they should be aware of the physical manifestations of the condition and the associated risks of any malignant tissue growth. A test can detect any alterations in the breasts, and the results must be reported to a gynecologist.

Checking your breasts
The shape, size, and consistency of the breasts of each woman are unique and may even vary by the menstrual cycle. For instance, some women have lumpy and tender breasts during the time of their periods. Menopause also brings its own set of changes when the normal breasts feel softer and less firm.

When a woman checks her breasts, there are certain things that she should be careful about. Any alterations in the size, outline, or shape of the organs must be noted. Changes in the look and feel of the skin like dimpling and puckering should raise red flags in the course of a breast self-examination. Women must check whether they have any discharge from the nipples other than milk, or blood oozing out of nipples, or a new lump or thickening in a part of the breast. Rashes on and around the nipple and any discomfort or pain in the breasts should be reported to a gynecologist.

Even though these symptoms do not necessarily denote the presence of cancerous growths, women must be advised to stay protected. Regardless of what the underlying health conditions may be, it is crucial that any growth is detected in the early stages and must be treated efficiently.

Benefits of breast self-examination
Most women opt to perform a breast self-examination as an integral part of the breast screening regime. When this method is combined with clinical breast examination as performed by an expert, it results in optimum breast screening. We note that breast self-examinations are considered an effective tool to ensure optimum health in women.

These procedures can help detect cancer in its early stages. A breast self-examination also offers a higher chance of curing any untoward conditions. Even though it cannot reduce the chance of dying from breast cancer, it can reduce the potential risks of various other diseases.

Raising awareness among members of the public represents a key strategy for population-based breast cancer control. Many low and middle-income countries like India face a double burden of the breast as well as cervical cancer, which are regarded as the top fatal cancers in women. It is therefore essential to implement a combination of strategies for addressing public health issues efficiently.

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