Clinical breast examination is carried out by a health professional. Different doctors hold different opinions on whether clinical breast screenings or examinations should be carried out individually. There are also differences on how many times the screenings should be performed.
Self breast examination
For self examination, women are supposed to check for visible abnormalities. This includes feeling pain, lumps and thickening in the breast. Often discoloration is noticed and sometimes changes in shape of the breast or around nipples are observed. In most women, breasts are not of the same size, so one must not feel alarmed by such diagnosis.
However, if there is puckering, changes in shape, contour or unusual dimpling and/or sores, it must be reported to a physician so that the next steps of clinical confirmation can be performed.
Clinical breast examination
Clinical screening of breast cancer is carried out through mammography where low energy X-rays of 30 kVp are passed over the desired area to diagnose abnormalities like microcalcifications and/or abnormal masses.
It is mainly a screening tool for early diagnosis. Medical advice for such mammography should be sought by older women between the age of 50 and 74 every 2 years.
If a woman has undergone breast implants, it does not reduce her chances of having breast cancer. Hence self and clinical examinations of the breast should be carried out. How often or what should be the line of examining the conditions should be discussed with the physician.
Why is breast examination done?
Examination of the breast is carried out so that one can avoid more serious problems. For instance, cancer can spread into the vital organs of the body, thus threatening the life expectancy of the individual.
Several women undergo surgery, which means besides experiencing painful chemotherapy and radiation they should remove the tumor as well as the surrounding tissues of the cancerous tumor.
The standard surgeries carried out are mastectomy (entire breast is removed), quadrantectomy (a part of the breast is removed) and lumpectomy (only a small part of breast is taken out). Medication should also be administered, which are expensive and financially taxing for a lot of individuals.
When should one go for clinical examination?
One should go for clinical breast examination when they have already detected a lump or any abnormalities by self examination. Abnormalities for breast cancer include changes in the color of the skin, dimpling, changes in the texture of the skin around the breast and abnormal transformation of the nipples such as pulling in or discharge, inverted nipples and so on.
Normally, women feel heavy and lumps develop in the breast during their menstrual period. Again, the breasts undergo various transformations when a woman is pregnant, have had a breast implant, are breastfeeding, have had a biopsy or hormone replacement therapy.
Women who have a family history of cancer or such are at maximum risk of developing breast cancer and hence should be most cautious. They should go for periodic examination of their breast to prevent any kind of cancer or abnormalities.