Have you touched yourself lately?

The number of women diagnosed with Breast Cancer has been on a rise in the last few years. And the thought of finding a lump on your breast can be a scary one. But, not checking for one and hoping it doesn't exist is not the way to protect yourself from Breast Cancer.

So today, let's learn how to conduct a Breast Self-Exam in 5 simple steps.

But before that, here's what you must keep an eye out for:

- Development of a lump

- Skin irritation or dimpling

- Swelling of the breast

- Discharge of any kind other than breast milk

- Abnormalities in nipples like redness, itchiness etc.

Step 1

Stand in front of the mirror and check your breasts thoroughly. Look for any skin discolouration, skin dimpling, scaliness or puckering. Clasp your hands behind your head and look carefully for change in shape of your breasts. Squeeze your nipples and check for discharge.

Step 2

Lie down on your back to perform the next set of exams since it spreads the tissue evenly on the chest. With your left arm over your head and a pillow or towel under your left shoulder, put your left hand behind your head. Use the finger pads of three middle fingers to begin touching your left breast gently but firmly.

Step 3

You can follow any of theses methods:  

A) Lines - Follow an up-and-down vertical strip pattern from your collarbone to just below your bra line, until you reach the nipple.

B) Wedges - Starting at the outer edge, move your fingers toward the nipple and back to the edge.

C) Circles - Move your fingers in circles starting outwards to inwards until you cover the entire breast.

Step 4

Follow the previous step using three levels of pressure to examine your breast:

Light pressure: To examine the tissue closest to the skin

Medium pressure: To feel a little deeper

Firm pressure: To feel deeper tissue closer to the chest wall

Step 5

Rest your arms on a firm surface and use the same method of your choice to examine the area between the breastand the underarm, and the underarm itself. All of this is breast tissue too. Or, repeat these steps in the shower so your fingers can glide easily on your breasts.

Breast Self-Exam is not just a one-time thing. You must make it a monthly routine. Partner with your girlfriends, sisters, even your mother so you can keep a check on each other and ensure you are all doing it. And if you feel any irregularities, do not hesitate in consulting your physician. Talking about your breasts can be hard. But ignoring the symptoms just because it's embarrassing is not the solution.

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