Joplin, MO- No patients wants to hear they've got breast cancer - but Dana Hutson with the Freeman Women's Pavilion says you can improve your odds with early diagnosis through monthly self exams. "None of us like to look at ourselves. But I will say, get in front of a mirror, look at what the breast tissue should normally look like - smooth, no dimpling, no bulges. You want to know what you normally look like from a breast tissue standpoint. They recommend you use the fatty part of your fingers, your first three fingers. And you're going to make circles. They say go around your breast tissue three times; you're going to go all the way around. So the first time you're just barely going skin deep, the next time you're going to press a little bit harder. So that you're going half way thru your tissue and the third time you go around the goal is to get clear to your chest wall."
Raising your arm can help stretch the tissue, making it easier to feel anything unusual. Hutson adds you can perform the exam in the shower where the soap can make the inspection easier. Adds Hutson, "So my recommendation, when you go to the doctor and he does a breast exam on you and tells us everything feels normal. Go home that day and learn how, what he's felt normal, so you'll learn what your lumps and bumps are."
The more frequently the self exam - the smaller the lump you'll be able to detect. And repeated mammograms starting at age 40 will find even smaller irregularities.