Self breast exams may alert women to breast cancer - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Self breast exams may alert women to breast cancer

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

Examining breasts on a regular basis could help women detect breast cancer in its earlier stages.

"The most important part of doing the self breast exam is getting a baseline and knowing your breasts from the outside and looking at them and from the inside as you feel them," said registered nurse Suzanne Zupko Mercy Health's Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center.

Zupko says women should screen themselves once a month, typically three to four days after their menstrual cycle.  Post-menopausal women can select any day during the month to perform their exams.  The first part of screening is to look at the breasts in front of a mirror with your hands on your hips and then with your hands above your head.

"Have they changed color?  Are my areola, are my nipples changing?  Are they going in a different direction?  Are they inverted?  Is there any redness?  So, you are going to have your baseline and then any deviation from hat is something that you might be concerned about, that you may want to follow up with your physician," said Zupko.

The next step is to feel for changes by pressing on the breasts in a circular pattern.

"If you are premenopausal and still having cycles and you feel this little extra lumpiness or something this month then sometimes they recommend you keep a journal.  So, if it goes away then ok that was most likely related to my cycle.  If it stays there or if it is getting bigger or something just feels weird about it, just go to the doctor and get it checked," said Zupko.

While self breast exams don't take the place of traditional screening methods, they can help establish a familiarity that could potential alert someone to the second most common cancer in women.

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