Bumps, Lumps and Everything in Between

Recently I discovered a lump on my chest, and it led me down a Google spiral as I searched for what it could be. Already stressed out because of school and the inevitable horror that are exams, my first feeling was annoyance. The fear came later as the nursing side of me took over and I began to investigate the lump more seriously. All the knowledge I’d learned about breast cancer flooded back in, and I got to examining myself as I would a patient. I’d come to learn that a lump can be so many things, from benign tumors to lipomas, to a complex array of different cysts, the majority of which majority non-cancerous.

Self-determining what it is can be quite difficult, so it’s best to see your doctor as soon as possible! This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Date of Self-Exam

Breast self-exams should be performed at least once a month, for both men and women. For women, the best time to perform your self-exam is one week after the start of your menstrual cycle when your breasts are the least impacted by your hormonal change during ovulation.

The Varying Positions of Self-Exam

It is important to assess your breasts in as many of the positions listed below as possible. One isn’t enough! However, don’t feel pressure to assess in all the positions mentioned. Certain indications of breast cancer are better seen while standing, meanwhile, others appear better when lying down. Although these position changes may appear unnecessary and time-consuming, once you know what to look for, you can complete your entire exam in less than 10-15 minutes every month. In retrospect, that’s 10-15 minutes out of 40,000 minutes every month. Set a date in your calendar and stick to it; the best defense is offense.

When in Doubt, Seek Medical Advice

Doctors and NP’s have many tools at their disposal that they can use to determine the identity of your lump. X-rays, ultrasounds, biopsies and genetic marker testing can all be used to put your mind at ease. Furthermore, testing at the earliest time possible warrants early access to treatment, a factor that is vital in determining one’s chance of survival. If you’ve journaled about your breasts, bringing this information with you to your visit may provide the physician with a good indication about your norms. It’s also important to note that self-examinations are not a replacement for medical breast exams by physicians. Routinely visit your primary care physician or Gynecologist for a thorough, stress-free check-up!

Now that you know about all those, proceed to do a thorough breast exam. Grab a pencil and a paper and chart your findings. These will come in handy if you notice a change in your breasts. Anyone who has a pair of breasts ought to be doing this regardless of having found a lump (this includes men!). To inspect yours, use a chart, or start a new entry in your journal!

 

 

For more information on breast cancer visit these informative websites:

https://sunnybrook.ca/content/?page=photography-breast-cancer-2017

https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/self_exam

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/breast-exam/about/pac-20393237