Lakeshore Urology

Lakeshore Urology , PLC
Serving Grand Haven, Muskegon, Shelby and the Lakeshore of West Michigan  (616) 604-8363

Self Examinations For Women

Regular self examinations are an important part of staying healthy.  We recommend that you pick a day each month and spend an extra bit of time after a shower to perform these vital self examinations.  They may save your life! You should also have regular visits with your primary care provider to discuss these recommendations.

Breast Examination

It is best to perform your monthly breast self-exam during or just after a shower.  Showering smooths and relaxes the skin-- this makes the examination easier to perform thoroughly. The best time to do a self examination is about 3-5 days after the start of your period.  Your breasts will not be as lumpy or tender during this time.

When examining the breasts, look and feel carefully for changes in shape, size, contour, texture.  Be on the lookout for lumps, bumps, shape inconsistencies, skin texture changes, or dimpling/puckering of the skin or nipples.  If you note any changes, be sure to seek examination by a healthcare provider.

1) Lie on your back.  This makes it easier to thoroughly examine all your breast tissue. 

2) Place your left hand behind your head.

3) Take the index, middle and ring fingers of your right hand and firmly yet gently press down and use small circular motions to examine the whole left breast working in a circular pattern from outside towards the nipple.

4) Sit up.  With your left hand still behind your head, feel the armpit area and the area between the breast and shoulder on the left side.

5)  Gently squeeze the left nipple, looking for any discharge.  

6)  Repeat this process for the right breast by putting your right hand behind your head after you lay back down.  

7)  Now, stand up in front of a mirror, arms at your side and look at your breasts in the mirror.  Look for indentations, dimpling, puckering, skin that looks like an orange peel or other skin texture changes.

8)  Note if the nipple turns inward, then observe the outline and shape of each breast.

Almost all women have some breast lumps.  You need to know your body, and look for new or different lumps or skin changes.  If you do, call your health care provider right away. 

One last note-- monthly breast self-exams are not a substitute for the recommended mammogram and physical schedule.  Be sure to follow these guidelines to help maintain your health.

Skin Examination

Performing a regular skin examination is recommended for early detection of skin cancer.  We recommend a monthly exam so that you become familiar with your unique skin.  

How to Perform a Skin Self-Examination

An optimal time to perform a skin self-examination is after a bath or shower.  You should have a full length mirror, a handheld mirror and perform the examination in a brightly lit room.

Especially at first, it is important to become familiar with any moles and birthmarks are located, noting how they feel and look. 

Look and Feel for:

  • New moles and those that look different from other moles on your body
  • Changes in color, size, shape or feel of an existing mole
  • New flesh colored firm bumps
  • New dark colored or red flaky patches--these may or may not be raised
  • Sores that don't seem to heal

Start from the top and work down.  Be thorough.

1)  Examine the scalp-- this area gets lots of sun exposure.  Use a blow dryer and/or a comb to move your hair to better visualize the scalp. This is also an area that it may be easier to have someone else examine you.

2)  Carefully examine the face, ears (including behind the ears), neck and throat area.

3)  Use the mirrors and look at the front and back of your body. Don't forget the genital area and between the buttocks.

4)  Lift up your arms and examine each side of your body.

5)  Examine your arms, being sure to examine the upper arm, top and underside; bend the elbows and examine them; forearms, front and back.

6)  Examine your hands (both sides), fingers (including fingernails), areas between the fingers.

7)  When examining your legs, be sure to examine the front, sides, and back of the legs including behind the knees.

8)  Closely look at your feet.  Examine the ankles, tops, spaces between the toes, toenails, and the bottoms of each foot.

Congratulations!  You will learn what is normal for your skin by checking it monthly.  You may want to keep a record of the dates you perform a self exam and note any findings.  Some people will also take pictures of moles so they can compare them at a later time. See your healthcare provider if you find

By checking your skin regularly, you will learn what is normal for you. It may be helpful to record the dates of your skin exams and to write notes about the way your skin looks. If your doctor has taken photos of your skin, you can compare your skin to the photos to help check for changes. If you have concerns or note any changes, be sure to seek examination by a healthcare provider.

Oral Examination

A monthly oral exam plays a vital role in detecting oral cancer.  You see your mouth more than anyone else.  Self examination can find a suspicious spot in your mouth that may need attention of a health professional.  If you spot something abnormal, contact your dentist or other healthcare provider immediately.

Monthly self examinations do not take the place of dental visits.  You should see your dentist twice a year for a complete exam which includes a cancer screening.  You should also have your teeth cleaned by dental staff.

How to Perform an Oral Self Examination:

1) Get a bright light and a mirror.

2) Take out any removable dental devices such as braces bridges or dentures.

3) First you will examine the neck starting at the side and moving to the front to feel for lumps or tender spots.  Next feel for swelling or bumps on your face.

4) Take your upper lip and pull it up.  Look for color changes or sores on the lips.  Now examine the lower lip.

5) Pull your cheeks away from your gums with your fingers.  Look for color changes which may include white patches, dark spots or reddened areas.  Feel for lumps in your cheeks by holding your thumb on the outside and your index finger on the inside.

6)  Open your mouth wide and tilt back your head.  Look for color changes on the surface of the mouth.

7) Take a dry washcloth or cotton gauze to grab the tip of your tongue.  Look for color changes or swelling on the top, sides and back of tongue.

8) Next examine the bottom of the tongue by lifting it to the roof of your mouth.  Also look at the mouth floor.  You can continue to use the index finger in your mouth and thumb outside to examine for lumps or tenderness.

Seek attention of a dentist or health care professional if:

You find a sore that bleeds easily and doesn't seem to heal. 

You find a red or white patch on your tongue, gums or elsewhere on the mucus membranes of your mouth.

You find a thick spot/lump in your cheek that you can feel with your tongue.

You have difficulty swallowing or chewing food.

You have trouble moving your tongue.

You have trouble opening and closing your jaw.

You have a sore throat or feel like something is caught in your throat that you cannot clear.

You have pain and swelling where dental work is placed.

Numbness or tingling or loss of taste.