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A Definitive Guide to Breast Self-Exam, Screening, & Diagnosis


Breast cancer is among the most common cancers among women, and early detection is key to improving the chances of successful treatment. Breast cancer screening, self-exams, and diagnosis are important tools in the fight against breast cancer. However, many people don't know the differences between these methods. This blog will discuss how to check for breast cancer, the importance of self-breast exam, breast cancer screening, and breast cancer tests.


Breast Cancer Awareness


Breast cancer is a cancer that occurs when cells in the breast tissue divide and grow uncontrollably. It is the most common cancer among women worldwide and can also affect men. While the causes of breast cancer are not fully understood, certain factors such as age, gender, family history, and lifestyle habits can increase the risk of developing the disease. 



Symptoms of breast cancer are a lump in the breast or underarm, changes in the size or shape of the breast, nipple discharge, and skin changes. 


Early detection and treatment are key to successful outcomes in breast cancer. A regular breast cancer self-exam and recommended screening tests such as mammograms can help detect the disease early when it is most treatable. 


If you notice any changes or abnormalities in your breast tissue, consult with a healthcare provider to determine if further testing is necessary.


How to Check for Breast Cancer


Breast cancer can occur in women and men. The American Cancer Society recommends women to have a clinical breast exam once at least every 3 years in their 20s and 30s and every year after age 40. 


Factors that can increase your risk of breast cancer include age, family history, genetic mutations, radiation exposure, and lifestyle factors such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. It is essential to perform a self-breast exam regularly.


A breast cancer self-exam is an important tool for detecting breast cancer early. It involves examining your breasts for any changes or abnormalities, such as lumps or swelling. You should perform a self-breast exam once a month, preferably a few days after your menstrual cycle has ended.


In the section below, we’ve covered how to check for breast cancer in detail.


Breast Self-Examination Steps


Here are some breast self-examination steps: 


  1. Begin by standing in front of a mirror with your arms at your sides.
  2. Look at your breasts in the mirror to observe for any changes in shape, size, or colour.
  3. Raise your arms above your head and look and look at your breasts again. Check for any signs of fluid or discharge from the nipples.
  4. While standing or lying down, place one hand behind your head, and use the other hand to examine your breast. Use the pads of your fingers to check for any lumps or abnormalities. 
  5. Move your fingers in a circular motion around the breast, starting from the outside and working your way towards the nipple. Make sure you check the entire breast, including the area under your armpit.
  6. Repeat the same process on your other breast.


Breast Cancer Screening


Breast cancer screening refers to tests and procedures used to detect breast cancer in individuals with no symptoms. Breast cancer screening is important because it can detect breast cancer before symptoms develop. Screening can include breast exams, mammography, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).


  1. Mammography: This is the most common screening tool for breast cancer. A mammogram is a breast x-ray that can detect tumours or other abnormalities. Mammograms are recommended every year for women over the age of 40 or women with a higher risk of breast cancer. Some women may start getting mammograms earlier or more frequently, depending on their risk factors.
  2. Breast ultrasound: This is another screening tool used to evaluate breast tissue. Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the breast tissue, and it can detect whether a lump is solid or filled with fluid. Breast ultrasound may be used as a follow-up to a mammogram or as a screening tool in women at higher risk of breast cancer.
  3. MRI: This more advanced screening tool uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of breast tissue. MRI may be used as a follow-up to a mammogram or in women at high risk for breast cancer.


Breast Cancer Test


Breast cancer tests are the procedures used to confirm whether someone has breast cancer. Further testing may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis if an abnormality is found during a screening. These tests may include a biopsy or an MRI.


A biopsy involves removing a sample of breast tissue for analysis. There are different types of biopsies, including needle biopsy and surgical biopsy. In a needle biopsy, a small needle is inserted into the breast tissue to remove a small sample for examination. In a surgical biopsy, a larger sample of breast tissue is removed for analysis. The sample is then examined under a microscope to determine if cancer cells are present.


In addition to biopsy, some other breast cancer test may be used to diagnose breast cancer. These tests include blood tests, bone scans, and CT scans, which are used to determine the cancer's spread beyond the tissue.


However, not all breast abnormalities are cancerous, and not all cancers are detected through screening. Therefore, paying attention to any changes in your breast tissue and to consult a healthcare provider if you notice any changes or abnormalities is essential.




Breast cancer self-exam and diagnosis are critical components of breast cancer detection and treatment. While screening tests such as mammograms and ultrasounds are effective in detecting breast cancer, self-exams can help detect abnormalities early. If you notice any changes or abnormalities in your breast tissue, consult a healthcare provider to determine if further testing is necessary.


It is important to remember that early detection is key to successful breast cancer treatment. By performing regular self-exams and undergoing recommended screening tests, you can take control of your breast health and potentially detect breast cancer at an early stage when it is most treatable. 


For more information about how to check for breast cancer, consult a Breast Cancer Specialist at Medanta Medicity Hospital today!

Medanta Medical Team
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