Women’s Health

3 Ways for Breast Testing… know about them!

October 14 , 2018
Dr. Layal Al-Asir

Dr Layal El-Asir is a UK trained oncoplastic breast and general surgeon....More

We should start checking ourselves for any breast changes as soon as we learn how!

This is done in three ways:

  1. Self-Exam:

This should start when we are 18 and continue throughout life.

We should be doing this once a month, after our period and before mid-cycle. Best is day 7 (if you count day 1 as the day your period started to day 10.

Start by standing across the mirror. Look at your breasts with your arms by your side, then raised up in the air. Check the underside of your breast by lifting them one by one.

Check for any skin dimpling- this is best noticed with your arms raised up. If your skin seems to be ‘dimpling’ (attached to something underneath) see a breast doctor straight away. Look for any color changes. Look at the shape and color of your nipples. any changes you notice should be reported to your doctor.

Next, start checking using your opposite hand. I find my patients find this easiest in the shower with soap. Use your left hand to check your right breast and vice versa. Raise your arm in the air and using the flat side of our fingers check your breast in a clockwise ‘snail’ pattern so you don’t miss anywhere. Then check your armpit, then repeat on the other breast.

At first, you will find that your breast is a lump full of lumps! Don’t worry. After your first check up with your breast doctor, he or she will show you what’s normal and what’s not. And with time, you will know your own ‘normal lumpiness’ and will realize when a new lump shows up.

Don’t squeeze your nipples to check for discharge. All you need to do is check your shirt or bra every day. If there is a stain where your nipples are then going get that checked out.

 

  1. Clinical Exam at the Breast Doctor’s Clinic:

This would be helpful for you whenever you have doubts about any findings or symptoms you have related to your breast. I would advise anyone who has a family history of breast cancer, anyone over the age of 35, anyone who has had repeated cycles of IVF, and anyone who has been taking the contraceptive pill for more than two years in a row to get checked at the doctor’s office once a year.

 

  1. Screening Mammogram

The Jordan screening Program advised this annually from the age of 40. This is different around the world and starts at different ages depending on how common breast cancer is at each age in every country.

I personally prefer the patient to be examined by the breast doctor first. Mammograms are not very helpful when you are young because of the dense composition of your breasts tissue at a younger age. So, if your breasts are very dense you may have to have different tests depending on your circumstances, your symptoms, and how dense your breasts are.

You may wonder why we did not mention Ultrasound testing! The ultrasound has no role in early detection because they do not reveal tumors before they occur, unlike mammograms. Ultrasound is a useful tool for checking any symptoms or updates on self-examination and clinical examination.

In any case, please get checked. Being breast aware can save your life and save you from devastating consequences of late stage disease and treatment if detected early.