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Early Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

Early diagnosis can lead to better result of treatment. Early diagnosis means smaller tumour. Early diagnosis means localized tumour (tumour limited to breast and not involving lymph nodes. Early diagnosis means better survival. Early dignosis may mean shorter treatment and may mean option of breast preservation Self-examination of breasts and regular mammography and examination by qualified doctor are recommended, The women should start self-examination of breast every month from age of 20 years. The best time to do self-examination of breast is a week after beginning of menstruation.


How to Perform Self-Examination of Breast?
Observation of Breast

A mirror is necessary to observe the breasts. In India, many women cannot do this examination due to lack of space and privacy in their homes. It has been experienced that women usually come to know about lump in the breast while bathing. One can have a 45 cms X 45 cms mirror in a bathroom to do the self-examination of breast. The cost of the mirror is negligible compared to early diagnosis of breast cancer.

Stand in front of a mirror. Let your arms be by the side of your body. Observe your breasts from front and both the sides. Consider the following:

  • Is there any change in size and shape?
  • Is there any redness or puckery skin on breast?
  • Is there any discharge from nipple?

Raise your arms above shoulder. Press both palms in front of face in manner of doing Namaste.
During both these positions observe changes in breast and armpit.

Examination by Hands

  • It is important to examine both the breasts with hand. Use right hand to examine left breast and left hand to examine right breast. Hold the thumb and fingers together. Keep the fingers straight so that the hand remains flat. Try to check for any hard or thick lump in your breasts. Examine yourself while standing.
  • Start examining the breast from outer circumference of your breast. Examine the breast in circular movements.
  • Make a small circle all the way around your breast.
  • Bend your wrist to check your armpit.
  • Once you complete checking one circle, shift your hand slightly towards nipple and go around the breast again.
  • Keep moving towards nipple. Do not forget to check the nipple. Press your hand against nipple and check for hardness.
  • Press nipple between thumb and finger and look for discharge.
  • You can examine the breast while lying down. Before going to sleep lie down on hard surface. Keep one hand below your head and examine the opposite breast as explained above.


  • Always examine both the breasts
  • Check every part of the breast while examining
  • Always keep your hand in constant contact with breast. Do not lift hand from breast. Give equal pressure on every part of the breast.
  • Bend your wrist to go over to armpit.
  • Never conduct breast self-examination wearing your clothes.

When to Start Breast Examination?

It is advisable to start self-examination of breast from the age of 20 years and continue after menopause. Mammography is recommended every year after the age of 50 years. Fix a date or day like full moon, no moon etc. to ensure regularity.

What to do When a lump is Located?

It is not necessary that the changes you observe in the breast are due to cancer. Consult your doctor without any delay. If necessary, doctor may ask you to go for a mammogram or refer you to a cancer specialist for further tests.
Do not delay consulting a doctor if you observe any changes. Consult a cancer surgeon.

If your doctor is a man and you feel shy, take your woman friend or a relative along with you during the consultation and examination.

If the lump is not diagnosed as cancer, a visit to a doctor will remove your doubts and give you peace of mind. if the lump is diagnosed as cancer, an early diagnosis will prevent danger to your life.

Self-examination of breasts is the first step to protect yourself against breast cancer.

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