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What is breast cancer? How to do breast self examination?

Cancer starts when the cells in a part of the body start to grow out of control. The growth of a cancer cell is different from normal cell growth. Cancer cells do not die but they continue to grow and form new, abnormal cells. They can harm other tissues also. The normal cells become cancer cells when there is a damage to DNA. Most cases, cancer cells can become tumor. Some cancers, like leukemia, rarely form tumors.Cancer cells spread to other parts also. It does not matter where does cancer spread, they are always named from where it started. Not all tumors are cancers.

A simple Breast Self Examination (BSE) can be done to detect any chances of breast problems like lumps or change in appearance. The breast self examination should be done about a week after your periods end. Breast self-exam should be performed on the same day each month.

Breast self examination involves the following steps :
– Use left hand for right breast and right hand for left breast.
– Remove all your clothes and stand in front of mirror.
– Observe the size, shape, color, symmetry and texture of your breasts.
– Observe for any kind of discharge or puckering of the nipple.
– Observe for sores or scaly skin.
– Examine the breasts in four different postures.
– First, both arms folded down.
– Second, both arms over the head and check for any swelling or puckering of the skin.
– Third, both arms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles.
– Fourth, bent forward to examine each breast for change in outline or dimpling of the skin.
– Lie down, check the entire right breast area with your left hand. Make small circles and follow an up and down pattern with light, medium and firm pressure over the area of the breast.
– Feel the breast surface with second, third and fourth fingers of the hand making circular motions.
– Also, squeeze the nipple for any kind of discharge.
– Repeat the same steps with left breast but with right hand.
– During shower, examine the breast tissue in the underarms.
– Feel for lumps under and along the top of the collar bone.

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