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With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, we put together a short guide on how to do a breast self-examination (BSE), what you should be looking for, and how regularly you should do your BSE.  

How do you do a self-exam of your breasts?

According to CANSA.org there are three steps to follow:

1. In the mirror:

In front of the mirror look closely for any changes from the normal look and feel of your breasts. Examples of changes could look like dimpling, growing veins, skin sores etc. Inspect both breasts for any anomalies in four ways: while having your arms on your side, then arms above your head, then hands firmly planted on your hips and lastly leaning forward. 

2. Laying down:

Lie down with a pillow under your right shoulder and your right hand under your head. With four fingers of your left-hand press firmly as you move your fingers in a circular motion, then up and down across the entire breast area, under your arm and up to your shoulder bone. (Reverse when inspecting your left breast.)

3. In the bath or shower:

With your right hand raised, run a soapy left hand across your breast, using the same method as for when you are laying down. To examine your left breast, raise your left hand and run a soapy right hand across your breast.

What should you be looking for?

The Know Your Lemons (iOS/ Android) app is a great resource to help you keep track of when you need to do your breast self-exam, how to do it, and what to look out for. This is an illustration created by Know Your Lemons to help you spot certain common symptoms of breast cancer.

breast cancer

How often should you do a BSE?

A BSE should be done once a month, preferably at the same time of the day, three to five days after your period has ended. 

Share this article with your mother, sister or female friend to encourage them to do their breast self-examination too.

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