Even in 2019, breast cancer remains to be the leading cause of death in women in the Philippines. In data released by the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society, the Philippines has the most number of cases of breast cancer among 197 countries. And according to the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, 1 in 13 Filipinas will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. According to Dennis Sacdalan, an oncologist from ManilaMed, one way to reduce breast cancer’s continually ballooning mortality rate in the country is through early detection and screening procedures.
How Self-Exams Prevent Breast Cancer
This is why it is important to regularly check for lumps and other irregularities in the breast. Breast self-exams are easy and you can conveniently do it at home. Of course, there is no single way to detect all types of breast cancers. However, breast self-exams in combination with other screening methods like mammograms and sonomammography can help in early detection.
Hormonal changes can affect the size and feel of the breast, that’s why breast self-exams are best conducted a few days after the end of your monthly menstrual cycle. It is also advised to keep a journal for all the self-exams you have done to keep track of any changes you may have noticed in your breasts.
How to Do a Breast Self-Exam
Begin your breast exam by standing topless in front of a mirror with your hands on your side. In particular, inspect your breast for changes in size, shape, or symmetry, dimpling, inverted nipples, puckering, and/or asymmetrical ridges. Then, with both arms raised over your head, continue to check your breasts for the same visual changes.
Next, lie down on a flat surface and continue to inspect your breasts. Raise your arm one at a time. With the pads of the fingers on your right hand to feel your left breast and vice versa. Use a firm but soft touch to inspect for any lumps or abnormal growths. Inspect the entire breast from all sides, including the area on your collarbone, your armpit, and your cleavage.
Finish your breast self-exam in the shower, where the skin is wet and slippery and more tender. Raise one arm over your head and gently inspect your breast for any unusual lumps or growths. Follow an up-and-down pattern, moving from the bra line to the collarbone. Do this until you have covered the entirety of the breast and repeat on the other side.
What to do After a Breast Self-Exam
If you find a lump or an abnormality in your self-exam, don’t panic—a vast majority of breast abnormalities turn out to be benign or noncancerous. Despite this, you still need to schedule an appointment with your doctor to have your breasts examined professionally. Schedule a consultation and examination at our Center for Women’s Health. To set an appointment, visit ManilaMed or call us at (02) 8523 8131 loc 3100 /3101.