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Breast Cancer

Learn how to check for breast lumps in 5 simple steps

Dr Olamide .E. Oyende



A lump in the breast(s) is now one of the most common compliants seen in the female gender. The possibility of its cancerous nature makes it utterly important for all and every breast lump to be checked. This can be done preliminarily at home by oneself, sometimes even with the help of a partner or friend or family and it can be done professionally by trained health workers.

This is simply called ‘breast self-examination’ and every female must know how to do this. The steps involve you looking at and feeling your breasts.


1. Stand in front of the mirror with hands on your hips, and look at your breasts. Check for changes in size, shape and colour on each breast and nipple, and compare both sides.


2. Raise your hands and hold them above your head. Check for the similar changes as in (1) above.


3. Check also for any sign of liquid coming out of the nipple(s) – this can be yellowish, watery, milky or bloody.


4. Now, lie down to feel your breasts. For the left breast, place your left hand under your head and use your right hand to feel your left breast. The opposite is done for the right breast. Let your touch be firm and smooth, and keep your fingers flat and close together. Feel the whole breast using a circular motion, it is easy to divide the breast into quarters and feel one part at a time. Ensure you cover from the collarbone to the top of your abdomen and from the armpit to your cleavage.


5. Stand or sit to feel your breasts again. For the right breast, raise your right arm and feel with your left breast; do opposite for the left breast. Feel in similar manner to the description in (4) above.
Do this often, at least monthly, and you will be able to familiarise yourself with your breasts, this raises your suspicion and helps you pick abnormal change(s) quickly and easily. It is advised that you examine your breasts 3-5 days after your menstruation ends, because your breasts are less tender at this time.
During this examination, if you find any new changes like a lump, abnormal nipple discharge, swelling, distorted or asymmetrical shapes etc., please consult your doctor immediately.

Breast lumps in women under 35 years are often benign (not cancerous) but this is not always the case especially when the lump is painful, there are nipple changes and/or abnormal discharge and when there is a family history of breast cancer. All these are more reasons why every lump must be checked.


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Dr Olamide E. Oyende is a graduate of Olabisi Onabanjo University who is on a mission to impact people ‘wholly’ either through curative or preventive medicine; she is an MDCN (Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria) certified doctor who is also registered with the American Heart Association (AHA) as an Emergency Healthcare Provider. She reads and write for leisure and sees a lot of big and small screen productions.