• How To Self-check Breast Cancer

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    Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women across the world. This is also the case with women in India. There is still no conclusive evidence of what triggers cancer in people. While following a healthy lifestyle is known to lower the chances of breast cancer, it still may not be able to completely predict the onset of cancer. Furthermore, one cannot control some of the risk factors like environmental pollution or family medical history. When it comes to breast cancer, a minor self-check can go a long way in the deduction and subsequent treatment of the dreadful disease at an early stage.

    Importance of early diagnosis

    Though significant advancements have been made in the field of medicine, early diagnosis is crucial for the successful treatment of any kind of cancer. Many cancer-related deaths in India can be attributed to late diagnosis at an advanced stage. Another worrying statistic is that all forms of cancer are on the rise in India. While instances of cancer are still lower than other countries like the United States and China, the rapid increase in cancer cases is still a major concern for people in India. In this scenario, early diagnosis can help cancer patients treat the disease successfully without draining out one’s finances.

    Self-examination for breast cancer

    Similar to other types of cancer, breast cancer is also on the rise in India owing to various factors like poor lifestyle habits, environmental pollution, exposure to toxins, family medical history, etc. A complete diagnosis of breast cancer can be established only with the help of a mammogram. However, as many as 40% of breast cancer cases are detected at an early stage through self-examinations. Though this is not a conclusive test, most women have felt a lump before undergoing biopsies or mammographies.

    Though most experts believe that this is an important screening tool, there are some criticisms against the effectiveness of self-examinations. It should be noted that self-examinations are not foolproof. Sometimes it could lead to unnecessary biopsies, mammograms, and ultrasounds. These are expensive tests that could cost a lot for a normal person. With that being said, self-examination can still be an effective screening tool in determining cancer at an early stage in many cases. Self-examinations are important mainly because they are convenient and cost nothing. In order to make them more effective, self-examinations must be accompanied by regular health checkups.

    How to do self-examinations

    There are certain steps that must be followed when doing health self-examination on your own. Most experts recommend a routine check at least once a month. This is recommended for women of all ages. The procedure involved in the process is given as follows:

    • Step 1: The first step involves checking the entire breast area with your fingertip. Start from one point and move to other areas in a circular motion. In this step, you must cover your entire breast till the armpit area. During this examination, if you feel any lump or hardening at a specific point, you need to get it evaluated with the help of a physician. The physician will assess this and recommend a biopsy or mammogram if required. You need to do this for both sides. This must be done at least once in a few months.
    • Step 2: This step involves visible examination of the breast area with the help of a mirror. Check your breast area for any visible differences. Keep your arms at your side first and thoroughly examine the entire region including the nipples. Once this is done, raise your arms over your head and search for any differences. When you do this check, watch out for any bulging or swelling of the skin. Also, watch out for any rashes or soreness. If you find any of these symptoms, you may consult with your physician regarding this.
    • Step 3: This step involves checking the breasts while lying down. Make sure that you are comfortably lying down in a bed. When you are lying down, the breast tissue will spread across the chest wall. You must feel your entire breast with your hands by keeping the fingers together. You must use your right hand to check the left breast and vice versa. It is better to do this check one side at a time. Squeeze the breast area and move the fingers in a circular motion while lying down. If you notice any lumps or swelling during this examination, you may consult with your physician for further tests.

    Action to take

    If you come across any of the symptoms mentioned above while doing this check, you must not panic. There are many cases where women come across non-cancerous lumps during this check. Do not make the mistake of jumping to a conclusion that you have cancer. This self-examination is just the first step in cancer diagnosis. As noted earlier, it is not conclusive until you get it tested with the help of a physician. Schedule an appointment with your physician and get it tested with a mammogram. In some cases, physicians may also recommend an ultrasound in addition to a mammogram. These tests will confirm if you actually have cancer. If you get diagnosed with cancer, you may explore further treatment options with your physician.

    Accuracy of self-examination

    Self-examination is not conclusive enough for cancer diagnosis. It is also not sufficient to declare you cancer-free. Some early stages of cancer do not result in the formation of lumps. In this scenario, you will not be able to establish anything that is suspicious. Some experts recommend frequent screenings to check for breast cancer. This is recommended especially if there is a family history of cancer. Mammograms can detect breast cancer even before you can feel a lump in your breasts. You can do this at least once a year just to be sure that you are cancer free.


    The financial and physical stress of cancer on a person can be excruciating. If you are worried about cancer, a cancer insurance plan can be helpful in bringing you the much-needed peace of mind. Cancer insurance plans are offered by many health and life insurers in the market, and they provide financial protection against the unexpected onset of cancer. Since breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women, it is highly recommended for women to purchase this cover for their financial security.

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