What the lump? How to self-examine your breasts



As women, our breasts may be our best friends, they may also be our worst enemies when trying to find a good bra that fits, they may be far too big for their own good, far too small for our liking or just right. The relationship between you and your girls is one that is deeply personal and has developed after a number of years of growing pains, bra shopping and so many more intimate moments. But what if something had to happen to our breasts?

Breast cancer is not something that can be prevented and it is the harsh reality that some women may develop this form of cancer at some point in their lives. But there are some necessary steps that can be taken in order to help detect any abnormalities in your breasts earlier on.

We know how costly it can be to go to a doctor to examine your breasts when you’re not even sure if something is really wrong with them, the best part about these steps is that you can do them yourself, the second best part is that if you have affordable health insurance through Oneplan, depending on your chosen plan, you will be covered when it comes to check-ups for things like this.

So, before you go rushing off to the doctor, we have put together a foolproof guide to self-examining your girls…

Make it a routine, a little date between you and your breasts
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, women are encouraged to perform a self-breast exam at least once a month. Experts believe that roughly 40% of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who have felt a lump through self-examination.

Bear in mind that mammograms are able to help you in detecting breast cancer before you even feel a lump, but self-examining your breasts in how they look and feel will allow for you to book an appointment to see your doctor should you notice any changes.

How to perform a breast-exam yourself
There are 3 different ways in which you should perform a breast-exam:
  1. In the shower
    Using the pads of your fingers (i.e. the parts of your fingers with your fingerprints on them), move your fingers around each breast in a circular motion, moving from the outside of the breast to the centre and also feeling the armpit area. Make sure you cover the area of both breasts – don’t miss a spot! Check both your breasts every month for any kind of lump, hardened knot or thickening. If you notice any changes or abnormalities, then see your doctor for a checkup or mammogram.
  2. In front of the mirror
    Look at the appearance of both of your breasts with your arms at your sides. Then, lift your arms above your head. Try to see if you notice any changes in their contour (i.e. their shape and form), any swelling, a dimpling of your skin or changes in your nipples. It may help to snap a pic of your breasts during each monthly exam so that you have some photo evidence for comparison. Next, you will want to rest the palms of your hands on your hips, pressing firmly against your hips to flex your chest muscles (the classic Wonder Woman pose). It’s important to know that your left and right breast will not match exactly (although, some breasts might). Look for any changes such as dimpling and puckering (i.e. wrinkling or crumpling) particularly on the side of each breast.
  3. Lying down
    When you are lying down flat on your bed, then your breast tissue will spread out evenly along your chest. Placing a pillow under your right shoulder, put your right arm behind your head, you will now use your left hand to move the pads of your fingers around your right breast in gentle and small circular motions, make sure you cover the entire area of your breast and armpit. Try to use a light, medium and firm pressure combination. Squeeze each nipple and also check for discharge or lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.
That’s it! These three steps will help you to detect any abnormalities and we promise you, your girls will thank you for it!

Can I rely on self-exams of my breasts alone to ensure I am cancer free?
Having a mammogram done will allow for any tumours to be detected before they are able to be felt by you or a doctor, this makes screening a key element for early detection. However, when combining regular check-ups with your doctor and any recommended screening your doctor may suggest you have (i.e. having breast cancer in your family and being above a certain age will increase your risks of breast cancer and require you to have screening tests performed on a more regular basis), breast self-exams can help you to know what is normal and report any changes to your doctor.

If you find a lump or abnormality, then make an appointment to visit your doctor, but try not to panic, a number of lumps are not cancerous – but it’s best to see your doc to make sure!

Remember, if you are worried about having to break the bank in having a mammogram done or visiting your doctor, have a look at our variety of health insurance plans tailored to your needs and your budget.

Yours in health,

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