Diane White, director of the Marymount University Student Health Center, teaches Mashawna Kimble how to do a breast self-exam.
Arlington A corner of Arlington turned pink last week in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Marymount University held the first ever “Pink Out MU” day to promote breast cancer awareness and share information on the disease.
The Student Health Center encouraged the community to wear pink to show their support for the fight against breast cancer. “A large number of people joined in the sprit and were wearing pink attire or pink ribbons,” said Marymount spokeswoman Laurie Callahan.
How Should a Breast Self-Exam Be Performed?
1) In The Shower
Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. Notice any changes and get lumps evaluated by your healthcare provider.
2) In Front Of A Mirror
Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead.
Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match — few women's breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.
3) Lying Down
When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit.
Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.
University officials provided educational material, gift bags and self breast-exam demonstrations. “We called it ‘Explore Your Mountains’ to add a bit of levity to it,” said Burke resident Diane M. White, RN, MSN, director of the Marymount University Student Health Center. “About every sixth person who came by had a story to tell about how someone they know had been helped by self breast-exams.”
White said she and other health care professionals reached out to young women. “There has been recent controversy in the public media about self-breast exams, particularly in younger women,” said White. “As a health care provider, I believe that if you get to know your breasts’ structure when you are young, that can provide many benefits to you as you grow old as far as being able to detect changes. The benefits outweigh the risks.”
White highlighted statistics that show that breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the United States, and added that early detection is critical in the treatment of breast cancer.