Self-Exams for Preventive Health
Self-exams should be incorporated into an individual’s lifestyle and looked at as a preventive health practice. Testicular and breast cancer can be caught and diagnosed early when individuals become familiar with the texture and appearance of their bodies, and learn to recognize when a change is occurring.
Self-Exams for Males
Males should stand in front of a mirror that gives them a frontal view of their penis and testicles. They should observe the appearance of their scrotum to see if there is any swelling in the skin. Each testicle should be examined. Examine the testicle by placing the thumb on top of the testicle and the middle and index fingers underneath the testicle. The testicle should then be gently rolled between the fingers and thumb. You should experience no pain.
Next, locate the epididymis. This is the tubelike structure which is behind the testicles. This is where sperm is collected and carried. You should become familiar with the structure of the epididymis so you will not mistake it later for a lump.
If you find a lump, you should tell your doctor. It may just be a free floating lump, which is not cancerous. However, you should be seen by a professional to make sure. You should also schedule an appointment with your doctor if you notice that a testicle is becoming larger or smaller, if you experience pain in the testicles, scrotum, or have a dull ache in the groin area.
Self-Exams for Women
Women should also begin their breast self-exam in front of a mirror. They should look to see if their breasts are their usual appearance. You should look to see if there is any puckering, dimpling, swelling, or nipple distortion. This visual exam should be repeated, but with your arms raised above your head. Before you leave the mirror, squeeze the nipples to see if there is a discharge.
Next, recline on a bed or couch. You should decide upon a pattern in which you can examine your breasts. The pattern could be circles starting at the nipples and working out, or starting from the top down. Make sure this exam starts at your collar bone and extends to the top of your abdomen, or rib cage. This exam should also cover your arm pit region to the center breast bone. Your touch should be soft to become familiar with the texture, then stronger to feel the deeper tissues of the breast. This physical exam should be repeated in a seated position.
When doing your breast exam, use the opposite hand of the breast. For instance, when examining the left breast, use your right hand. Your left hand should be extended above your head, and vice-versa.
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