Steps to diagnose breast cancer at home
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women. Although its risk is lower in men, due to high death rate its awareness and early detection is necessary among both the genders. This can increase the success of treatment and survival rate. Following steps can help you to diagnose the breast cancer at home.
1 STEP 1: Getting familiar with the breasts
It is important that the female should know how her breasts look or feel. For this she should get familiar with their texture, contour and size. Notice any change in them.
2 STEP 2: Breast self examination (BSE)
Second important step is the breast self examination, which includes visual as well as manual BSE:
Observe the changes in breast size, shape, tenderness and appearance. Observe changes in the area around breast.
- The changes may be:
- Redness or rash
- Swelling or tenderness
- Nipple changes such as itching, redness
- Any discharge from the nipple, which can be bloody, clear or yellow
- Manual BSE can be done when the breast is less tender i.e. after a few days of menstrual cycle
- Following steps are performed for manual BSE
- Lie flat and place your right hand under your head.
- Use the finger pads of your left hand to palpate the breast
- Apply pressure with your finger pads all over the breast to feel the tissue. Make sure to apply equal pressure.
- Breast tissue also extends to the area of the armpit known as tail. This area should also be examined.
- Feel the tissue all over the chest.
- Repeat the process on your left breast.
- Pressure is applied to feel any kind of lump or tumour.
3 STEP 3: Recognition of specific symptoms
After the self-examination, you would be able to notice any symptoms related to breast cancer. The symptoms can be:
Changes in breast size or shape.
Tumour or any kind of infection of the breast can cause swelling, which can change the size and shape of the breast. This change often occurs in one breast, but can be on both sides.
Swelling of the breast
Swelling can occur in the breast, collarbone or in the armpit area. In some specific type of breast cancer, swelling can occur before the lump or tumour. So swelling is an early symptom of breast cancer before feeling the tumour.
Unusual discharge from the nipple
If you are not currently breast feeding, then any discharge from the nipple is unusual. This discharge can be clear, yellow or bloody. The discharge can occur with or without squeezing the nipple or the breast.
Changes in the nipple
Tumours close to the nipple can cause changes in the nipple .The nipple can be inverted by the tumour.
- Dimpling of breast skin
- Tumours near the skin of breast can cause the dimpling of skin.
- Skin thickness, redness, warmth or itching
Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare and a specific type of breast cancer which has symptoms similar to inflammation or infection of the breast.These symptoms inlcudes thickened and red skin, warm tissue and itching of the tissue.
Unusual pain in the breast
If you feel pain in your breast or nipple area which does not resolve quickly, this can be a symptom of breast cancer because breast tissue is not normally painful and pain can be due to any infection, lump or tumour.
The tenderness of breast during pregnancy or menstruation is normal, but if the pain is not related to pregnancy or menstruation, this can be a symptom of breast cancer.
Some other symptoms
Having the following symptoms does not necessarily mean you have breast cancer, but they should be examined for further investigation:
- Weight loss
- Shortness of breath
Ulceration of the breast i.e. having sores in the breast which may be red, itchy, painful, ooze pus or clear fluid.
If you notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms, the clinical examination should be conducted. It is required that the women keep a close observation for the changes occurring in their breast regions. This would not only help in early diagnosis of the disease but could manage to save some worthy lives.