How to conduct a breast self-examination. [Photo/]

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and many hospitals are conducting free or subsidized breast exams. You can never be too sure of anything so it would be great to have your breasts examined. This goes for both men and women.

In case you do not have time to check into a health centre, here are tips on how to conduct a self-examination.

Step 1: Stand in front of a mirror with your shoulders straight and look at your breasts. Look out for a rash, swelling, an inverted nipple, dimpling, change in colouring or bulging skin.

Step 2: Raise your arms high above your head and look for the same signs as step 1.

Step 3: Look out for any liquid that is coming out through your nipples. This could be blood, yellow or clear liquid.

Step 4: Lie down and feel your breasts. Use your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together.

Using circular movements, cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side, from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.

Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast. You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows. This up-and-down approach seems to work best for most women. Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts: for the skin and tissue just beneath, use light pressure; use medium pressure for tissue in the middle of your breasts; use firm pressure for the deep tissue in the back. When you've reached the deep tissue, you should be able to feel down to your ribcage.

Step 5: You can do the same examination while taking a shower. Remember you are looking out for change in the size of one or both breasts, change in the shape of one or both breasts; flattening or marble-like area, discolouration of breast tissue or change in skin texture and clear or bloody discharge from the nipple.