A lump you felt in your breast while taking a shower the other day might have made you uncomfortable and worried. Are you sure it’s a new lump? Could it be breast cancer? Knowing how to check the breast for signs of breast cancer is of utmost importance. Every girl above 18 should learn these signs and perform the self diagnosis each month to detect breast cancer.

Statistics put India at the forefront of breast cancer with a case being diagnosed every 29 seconds. Sadly, for lack of breast cancer awareness, most diagnosis have breast cancer stages that are far advanced, raising the risk of mortality. Even the rate of mastectomy (surgical removal of the breast tissue) is twice that of the US.

Symptoms of breast cancer:

There is no single factor that links directly to a medical diagnosis of breast cancer. Multiple risk factors contribute to this illness. Unless there is a direct genetic link such as the BRCA gene, pinpointing the true cause is very difficult.

Any of these changes could be a symptom of breast cancer:

  • Pain in the breast
  • Swelling
  • Nipples turning inward
  • Discharge apart from milk
  • Skin irritation, change in thickness of skin
  • Lump felt in armpits

Lack of awareness of symptoms of breast cancer and early screening are to blame for such high incidences of breast cancer. Though there is no magic formula to detect breast cancer symptoms, one way to reduce the risk of being diagnosed late is to do a self breast examination each month.

Take 5

It is necessary to know how a breast feels like and the best way to know is to perform a monthly breast examination with self help. Do it every month on the same date to notice any significant changes due to hormones or periods. It does not take more than five minutes to perform this examination. All you need is a mirror.


Step 1

Stand in front of a mirror with your shoulders straight and place your arms on your hips. Check if the size in either breast has increased or for any changes in the texture. Also look for any rash on the skin surface or pain. Look for changes in skin over the nipples and for any discharge.

Step 2

Now raise your arms above your head and look for the same changes.

Step 3

While you are standing in the mirror, look for any changes in the nipple region. Look for any discharge (watery, milky, bloody) that could be oozing out of it.

Step 4

  • Lie down on a flat surface. You may place a pillow under your head to be comfortable.
  • In a circular motion, feel your breasts using a firm hand using your finger pads kept together and flat. Use your left hand to feel your right breast and vice versa.
  • Make sure the entire area of the breast is felt 一 from the collarbone to the upper part of the abdomen and from armpits to your cleavage.
  • You can use a up- down vertical approach to feel deeper tissues as well.

Step 5

  • Feel your breast using the same techniques as Step 4(see above) while standing. Many women prefer to to do this in the shower when the skin is wet and slippery.

If you are still not sure on how to do it, you may also check out this video.

Remember to check till the collar bone as the breast tissue extends well into the arm pits. Early detection of breast cancer can save your life. Keep looking out for symptoms of breast cancer.

Often, a lump may not be a symptom of breast cancer, it could be something that is non fatal, like a cyst. In all cases, do not forget to visit your doctor for prompt diagnosis and breast cancer treatment.




Visit Gynecologist, MBBS, DGO , 11+ years experience

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