Breast exams are essential in detecting breast cancer early, which can help improve a person’s chances of successful treatment and recovery. There are different types of breast exams, including clinical breast exams, self-exams, and mammograms.
Understanding what each type of exam entails and what to expect before going in for one is essential.
Types of Breast Exams
A. Clinical Breast Exam
A clinical breast exam is a physical exam conducted by a healthcare provider. During the exam, your healthcare provider will check your breasts, underarms, and collarbone area for any lumps or abnormalities. They will also check for changes in breast size or shape, skin texture, and nipple discharge.
The exam itself is not painful, but you may feel some discomfort if your healthcare provider needs to press down on any areas. The exam typically lasts a few minutes.
A self-exam is a way for a person to check their breasts for any lumps or abnormalities. It’s recommended that people perform self-exams at least once a month to become familiar with the normal look and feel of their breasts.
To perform a self-exam, start by standing in front of a mirror and visually inspecting your breasts for any changes in size, shape, or skin texture. Next, use the pads of your fingers to feel for lumps or abnormalities in your breasts, starting at the armpit and moving in a circular motion around the breast.
It’s important to note that not all lumps or changes in the breast are cancerous. Still, it’s essential to report any changes to your healthcare provider to determine the cause and receive proper treatment.
A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that can detect changes or abnormalities that may not be noticeable during a clinical exam or self-exam. Mammograms are typically recommended for women over the age of 40 or those with a family history of breast cancer.
Before the exam, it’s recommended that you avoid wearing any deodorant, lotion, or powder on your breasts or underarms, as these products can interfere with the X-ray. During the exam, your breasts will be compressed between two plates while the X-ray is taken. This can cause some discomfort or pain, but it only lasts a few seconds.
After the exam, you may experience some mild discomfort or bruising. Your healthcare provider will review the results of the mammogram with you and determine if any further testing is needed.
Importance of Regular Breast Exams
Regular breast exams are essential in detecting breast cancer early, which can lead to more successful treatment outcomes. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, and early detection is crucial in reducing mortality rates.
Clinical breast exams, self-exams, and mammograms are all important tools in detecting breast cancer. By performing regular self-exams and scheduling regular clinical exams and mammograms with your healthcare provider, you can increase your chances of detecting any abnormalities early.
It’s essential to understand what each type of exam entails and what to expect before going in for one. Clinical breast exams, self-exams, and mammograms are all important tools in detecting breast cancer, and it’s recommended that people schedule regular exams with their healthcare provider.
When it comes to breast health, you can trust Barbara A. Hessel, MD. FACOG. We are an OBGYN clinic in Forest Hills, NY that can help you assess your overall well-being. Schedule an appointment with us today to learn how.