Cancer

Breast Self Exam

Breast Self Exam (BSE) is a tool that is used to detect changes in your breasts.  If you find any changes in your breasts, tell your healthcare provider right away.  Finding a lump or noticing that something is different does not necessarily mean you have cancer – only a healthcare professional can determine if a lump is cancer.

Frequency of BSE

A BSE should be performed each month.  It is suggested that BSEs be performed a few days after having a period, when the breasts are less tender.

Reasons to perform BSEs

1 out of 8 women will get diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.  Early detection of breast cancer is key! Don’t stress about doing a BSE.  It is an easy way to take control of your health.

How to do a BSE

  1. Lay down on your back with a pillow under your right shoulder.
  2. Using the pads of your index, middle, and ring fingers of your left hand, trace overlapping, dime-sized circles over your breast.  In each area, use light, medium, then firm pressure to feel the different layers of tissues.  Be sure to keep contact with your breast at all times and examine the entire breast.  It may be a good idea to start with the outer part of your breast and spiral in toward your nipple, or imagine lines covering your breast and follow the lines up and down with your fingers.
  3. Repeat on your other breast.
  4. Stand in front of a mirror and look at your breasts.  Notice the shape, size, any lumps, skin color, texture, and nipples.  Press your hands firmly on your hips and look again.  This movement causes the chest muscles to contract and enhance any changes.
  5. Raise each arm slightly, and in the same way you examined your breasts, examine your underarms.
  6. Repeat this process each month and remember to report any changes to your healthcare provider.

Congratulations! You have just completed your BSE, the first step in the detection of breast cancer.

Testicular Self Exam

Testicular Self Exam (TSE) is a tool that is used to detect changes in your testicles.  If you find any changes or pain in your testicles, tell your healthcare provider right away.  Finding a lump or noticing that something is different does not necessarily mean you have cancer – only a healthcare professional can determine if a lump is cancer.

Frequency of TSE

A TSE should be performed each month while you are in the shower.

Reasons to perform TSEs

Men ages 20-54 are most at risk for developing testicular cancer.  Because 1 out of 300 men will get diagnosed with testicular cancer in his lifetime, early detection of cancer is key!  Don’t stress about doing a TSE.  It is an easy way to take control of your health.

How to do a TSE

  1. While in the shower, move your penis out of the way and allow your scrotum to hang freely.  One testicle may hang lower than the other, which is normal.
  2. Check one testicle at a time by taking your thumb, index finger and middle finger and rolling each testicle between your fingers. They should feel firm, but not rock hard, and should be smooth.  You may notice a structure on the back of your testicles that feels like cords or worms, this is your epididymis, which is normal.
  3. Repeat with the other testicle.
  4. Repeat this process each month and remember to report any changes to your healthcare provider.

Call your healthcare provider if you notice any lumps or bumps on your testicles, pain, swelling, changes in color, or if you can’t find one or both testicles; these are signs that something is wrong.

Congratulations! You have just completed your TSE, the first step in the detection of testicular cancer.

Additional Resources

Student Health Services

American Cancer Society

Go Ask Alice! Health Q&A Internet Service

I’m too Young for This

Sean Kimerling Cancer Foundation

Breast Cancer Network of Strength

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation

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