Medical Library

Medical Library

About Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women today, with nearly 200,000 women diagnosed in 2009. Despite this staggering number, only 61% of women in Louisiana report receiving a mammogram within the past year. When breast cancer is detected in its earliest stages, the five-year survival rate is better, making early detection key.

Dr. JoAnne Barrios, OB/GYN physician with Baton Rouge General Physicians-Obstetrics & Gynecology offers a guide to important steps to practice good early detection habits at every age, including regular breast self-exams.

How to Do a Breast Self-Exam:

 

Step 1
Lie down and place your right arm behind your head.

Step 4
Move around the breast in an up and down pattern starting at an imaginary line drawn straight down your side from the underarm and moving across the breast to the middle of the chest bone (sternum or breastbone) like a snake. Be sure to check the entire breast area going down until you feel only ribs and up to the neck or collar bone (clavicle).  

Step 2
Use the finger pads (tips) of your three middle fingers on your left hand to feel for lumps in the right breast. Use overlapping dime-sized circular motions of the finger pads to feel the breast tissue.
 

 

Step 5
Repeat the exam on your left breast, putting your left arm behind your head and using the finger pads of your right hand to do the exam. 

Step 3
Use three different levels of pressure to feel all the breast tissue.

  • Light pressure to feel the tissue closest to the skin
  • Medium pressure to feel a little deeper
  • Firm pressure to feel the tissue closest to the chest and ribs

Use each pressure level to feel the breast tissue before moving on to the next spot. 


 

Before You Get Dressed Again…
While standing in front of a mirror with your hands pressing firmly down on your hips, look at your breasts for any changes of size, shape, contour, dimpling, redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin.

You should also examine each underarm with your arm only slightly raised so you can easily feel in this area. Raising your arm straight up tightens the tissue in this area and makes it harder to examine. 

Ages 20 to 39

  • Conduct breast self-exams on a monthly basis to look for any changes in the look or feel of your breasts.
  • Make sure you get a clinical breast exam from either your primary care physician or gynecologist at least every three years.
  • Talk to your doctor if you believe you may be at higher risk for developing breast cancer to find out what additional regular screenings you may need to have.

Ages 40 and Older

  • Conduct breast self-exams on a monthly basis to look for any changes in the look or feel of your breasts.
  • Make sure you get a clinical breast exam from either your primary care physician or gynecologist every year.
  • Get an annual screening mammogram, which is an X-ray of the breast. To have your next mammogram scheduled at Baton Rouge General's Women's Center, please talk to your primary care physician.
  • Talk to your doctor if you believe you may be at higher risk for developing breast cancer to find out what additional regular screenings you may need to have.

The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass, but other signs of breast cancer include:
  • Swelling of all or part of the breast
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • Breast pain
  • Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
  • Redness, scaliness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • A nipple discharge other than breast milk
If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.  To see a list of our physicians, please click here

For any additional questions, please email cancer@brgeneral.org

BLUEBONNET

Address:8585 Picardy Avenue
Baton Rouge, LA, 70809
(225) 763-4000

MID CITY

Address:3600 Florida Boulevard
Baton Rouge, LA, 70806
(225) 387-7000