How To Perform a Male Breast Exam Self-Check | Male Breast Cancer Awareness
During Breast Cancer Awareness month, it’s important to spread the word about all types of breast cancer so everyone can be familiar with the signs…and that includes men too. Men have breast tissue as well which means, although rare, male breast cancer can develop.
One of the reasons it’s rare to hear about male breast cancer is because, unlike with women, screening for men is not often prescribed.
For that reason, men should know how to perform a self-check male breast cancer exam. The first step in knowing your own body so you can detect changes. Here’s a step-by-step process for a male self-check exam.
Information About Male Breast Cancer
How to Perform a Male Self Breast Exam
Begin by standing in front of a mirror with your arms on your hips to tighten your chest muscles and inspect yourself. Watch for any changes such as dimpling, swelling and areas around the nipple or if the nipple becomes inverted. Raise your arms above your head and continue to examine your breast and armpit areas.
Move around the breast in a circular motion with the fingertips. You can perform this in either an up and down method, a circular or a wedge pattern, but try to be consistent using the same method each time. In addition, check the nipple area for any discharge. Complete on both breasts.
In addition to standing, you can also examine your breasts lying down. To do so, place a pillow under your right shoulder and bend your right arm over your head. Then, with the fingertips on your left hand, begin checking by pressing all areas of the breast and armpit. Once completed on the right, move the pillow to under your left shoulder and repeat the same process.
In addition you can request to have your physician perform a breast check during your annual physical. A male can get a mammogram. Size doesn’t matter!
At this time there is limited insurance coverage for routine check ups for a male to have a mammogram for prevention. If there is a family history or genetic testing (see Genetics below) has determined there is a high risk, then a mammogram would be helpful in the detection of early onset breast cancer. Having a baseline mammogram performed would be recommended. Hopefully routine mammograms for the male will become a regular screening tool and one that HIS is in full support of lobbying for.
The same goes for UltraSound and breast MRI. Depending on your risk factors, sometimes the MRI is used alternately every 6 months with a mammogram for yearly screenings.
As stated in the resource above, men can request a breast exam during their annual physical appointment with their doctor and should inform their doctor of the family history. If you are interested in a male breast cancer exam or have questions about administering your own self-check, talk to your physician.