162 Staying Healthy
➤ A woman should
examine her breasts
every month, even
after her monthly
bleeding has stopped
➤ If a woman has a
disability that makes
examining her breasts
difficult, she can ask
someone she trusts to
do it for her.
Regular breast exams
Most women have some small lumps in their breasts.
These lumps often change in size and shape during her
monthly cycle. They can become very tender just before
a woman’s monthly bleeding. Sometimes—but not very
often—a breast lump that does not go away can be a sign
of breast cancer.
A woman can usually find breast lumps herself if she
learns how to examine her breasts. If she does this once a
month, she will become familiar with how her breasts feel,
and will be more likely to know when something is wrong.
How to examine your breasts
Look at your breasts in a mirror, if you have one.
Raise your arms over your head. Look for any change
in the shape of your breasts, or any swelling or
changes in the skin or nipple. Then put your arms at
your sides and check your breasts again.
Lie down. Keeping your
fingers flat, press your
breast and feel for any
Be sure to touch every
part of your breast. It
helps to use the same
pattern every month.
What to do if you find a lump
If the lump is smooth or rubbery, and moves under the skin when you
push it with your fingers, do not worry about it. But if it is hard, has an
uneven shape, and is painless, keep watching it—especially if the lump is in
only one breast and does not move even when you push it. See a health
worker if the lump is still there after your next monthly bleeding. This may
be a sign of cancer (see page 382). You should also get medical help if
there is a discharge that looks like blood or pus.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012