Dr. Lance Bryce of Canyon Surgical Clinic in Brigham City stops by to tell us a his tips and tricks of breast exams.
Dr. Bryce explains that breast exams are important because, “Detection of breast cancers or lumps, or any of those kinds of things, early, allows us to take care of you and keep you safe.” The statistics show that one in under ten women will experience breast cancer. Also, one in 100 cases of breast cancer are male. Breast exams can be quick and easy, so let’s get you filled in on what doctors look for and how to do them properly at home.
There are lots of ways to go about a self breast exam but here is Dr. Bryce’s technique:
Start with a visual inspection. Try these three positions: Hands by your side, hands on your hips with shoulders rotated far back, and hands over your head. Then consider the following-
- Is there any dimpling of the skin?
- Is there any surface of the breast that resembles orange peel skin? This is a cancer signifier.
- Is there any nipple retraction? This is only normal if you’re born with it.
- Is there any bruising? Bruises that don’t change color or stay longer than two weeks need to be checked by a doctor.
- Do you have any rashes? Rashes and other red areas that don’t go away in two weeks with ointments also need to be checked by a doctor.
Then complete a palpation, or ‘touch’ exam.
- Use the numbers on a clock to examine your breast. Start from where each number would be and then feel down to the nipple. For example, begin at 12 o’clock and go to the nipple, then go to 1 o’clock of the breast and go to the nipple.
- Use the time zones on a clock to communicate where any masses or lesions may be. For example, you can tell your doctor that there is a small bump on the 4 o’clock region close to the nipple.
- Pay attention to the location and size of any abnormalities, what they look like, and if they hard, soft, or painful.
Remember all areas of the breast when conducting a self exam. 41% of breast cancers are found in the upper region of the breast near the armpit. Also, keep a breast diary. Write down how your breast exams go, sizes of lumps and any other findings.
Breast cancer is something all women should be aware of. Get your friends together and remind each other to do self exams and make appointments for mammograms.
Dr. Bryce is a huge advocate of early detection stating that, “it is the key to victory when it comes to breast masses or lesions.”
As a reminder, personal breast exams should not replace your yearly exam, they should merely be used in between annual exams. If you have any questions or detect a bump consult with your physician.