WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A self breast exam is one of the most effective ways to detect breast cancer, yet few women know how to correctly do them.
"The big problem is women don't know what they're looking for," said Joy Wade, regional program manager for Pretty in Pink.
Pretty in Pink is a non-profit organization that helps breast cancer patients pay for surgeries and treatment. Unfortunately, many of the women who come to Wade could have found their breast cancer earlier had they done the breast self-exam.
"95 percent of the ladies who walk in here that we work with saw something in their breast that looked different. When I asked if they knew how to do a breast self exam, the majority say no," Wade explained.
The former school teacher now holds seminars to show women how to do the exam correctly.
The proper breast self-exam covers the four P's: Palpation, pressure, perimeter, and position.
The palpation and pressure is using three fingers, and putting pressure on the breast to feel for lumps.
"The pattern is going to be as if you're cutting your grass, and you're moving your fingers from top to bottom," Wade added.
The perimeter is feeling the area from the bottom of your collar bone to the tops of your ribs, all the way under your arms. Breast tissue extends to those areas.
Position, is lying flat on your back to get a complete exam of the breast.
Women can call Pretty in Pink to attend a breast self-exam session.
"I'll also go to them," Wade said. "We're teaching folks what you look for--the itch, the sting, the dimpling, the rash, the discoloration. We're trying to save lives."
Click here for a WECT Pink Pack that shows you how to do the exam.