Dan žena: Brinem za svoje nevidljivo zdravlje

Women's Day: I worry about my invisible health

During the pandemic, we neglected regular preventive examinations, and more and more women discover breast cancer too late. On the occasion of this year's Women's Day, we want to empower you to put your health first , encourage you to schedule a life-saving preventive breast exam and remind you that you are not alone in this situation. Already today, you can make a positive change for yourself and do a breast self-examination at home, and Dr. Tihana Mazalin, director of the Mazalin Polyclinic in Zagreb, will help you in this, who below brings you everything you need to know about self-examination, how to perform it correctly and when it is necessary. consult a doctor.

Breast self-examination is one of the methods of early breast cancer screening. Breast cancer is the most common malignant tumor in women. Although certain risk factors for its occurrence are known, it is impossible to predict in which persons this cancer will develop, therefore it is important to note that breast self-examination should be performed regularly by all women.                                                                                                                                                       


In order for breast cancer to be detected in time, but also to have the best possible prognosis, it is important to regularly go for ultrasound and mammography examinations and properly perform breast self-examination at home. Breast self-examination is recommended once a month after the age of 20. It would be best to perform it a week after menstruation , that is, on the same day of the month for women who are breastfeeding or in menopause . 

It is important to familiarize yourself with the anatomy of your breasts so that you can recognize any changes in time. Also, you will notice that the breast during the menstrual cycle  they change, so for example before menstruation they are enlarged and sensitive. 


Breast self-examination includes two items - observing the external appearance and feeling the breast tissue . Perform a detailed breast self-examination in the following 3 steps: 


Take off your clothes, rest your hands on your hips and look at your breasts in the mirror. It is important to check if there are any changes in the appearance of the breast, such as redness, wounds, swelling, indentation of the skin and/or nipple, etc. Then raise your arms above your head and repeat the procedure, since tumors hidden behind the nipples can be detected in this position. 


After observation, palpation of the breast tissue follows. Move along the entire breast with small circular movements. First, press gently to assess whether there are changes in the skin, and then, with firmer pressure, examine the deeper structures. Don't forget the space above the breasts and the armpit region. Use your left hand to examine the right side, and the fingers of your right hand to examine the left breast. It is best to palpate the breast using 3 or 4 fingers to go over the tissue rather than separating it. By palpating the breast, the goal is to find a nodule, i.e. a lump , swelling or thickening of the tissue. 


To make the procedure complete and detailed, change the position. Lie on your back, put your hand above your head and place a pillow or towel under your shoulder. The further procedure is the same as in the upright position. 

Breast examination


Although breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer during life, this does not mean that it is not possible to get the disease while breastfeeding, so it is important that breastfeeding women regularly perform breast self-examination. In addition to tumors, by palpating the breast during breastfeeding, it is possible to detect some complications - mastitis (inflammation of the breast), blocked ducts, cysts filled with milk, sores on the nipples, etc. 


Most detected breast changes are benign in nature. However, it is important to pay attention to the signs that indicate that it is a malignant formation. Some of them are:

  • purulent or bloody discharge from the breast
  • skin like an orange peel
  • breast skin retraction
  • stationary, fixed nodule
  • sores on the skin of the breast or nipple that do not heal
  • changed breast size/shape
  • edema (swelling) of the hand

In case you notice any of these signs, contact your doctor immediately to perform a detailed examination and find out if you need to do additional tests, such as ultrasound, mammography, magnetic resonance (MR), biopsy, etc. 

Breast ultrasound Dr. Obad Kovačević, specialist radiologist from Mazalin Polyclinic with a patient


Breast tissue is full of bumps and glandular formations that may resemble suspicious nodules the first few times and cause confusion and fear. However, it is important to be persistent with self-examination and get to know the structure of your breasts so that you can recognize the appearance of suspicious formations in the future. It is important to perform self-examination regularly and preferably at the same time during the month. Also, this breast cancer screening method is not sufficient on its own and must be carried out in combination with regular ultrasound and mammography examinations. 

Text author: dr. Tihana Mazalin

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