Step 2: How to Monitor Your Body

Monitor your body regularly to detect cancer early. Methods to accomplish this are described below in text and video. (2)

Monitoring your body should take no longer than 10 minutes. This small investment in time could save your life! (64)

Why Monitor Your Body

  • Cancer grows 24/7. Monitoring your body helps detect cancer signs and symptoms between scheduled doctor visits, screenings, and testings. (2)
  • Many cancers if detected and treated at an early stage can be cured. According to the American Cancer Society, detecting cancer early may increase survival rate to 93.6% for many cancers. (1)

How to Monitor Your Body

  • Know your body.
  • Know the signs and symptoms. (2)
  • Monitor your body on a regular basis in the same lit room, using the same long and handheld mirrors.  It is suggested that women monitor their bodies consistent with their menstrual cycle.
  • Download the Monitoring Charts and update.
  • Download your Baseline Chart for comparison.
  • Monitor your body using the attached listed procedures to check for any changes that may have occurred.
  • Review the symptoms list to determine any changes.
  • Contact your medical team immediately should any changes occur so they can evaluate your findings.

Body Areas to be Monitored

Symptoms to be Monitored

Download Charts

How to Monitor Your Body

No one knows your body as well as you do; therefore, you should notice changes easily. Monitoring your body should cover your entire body with special emphasis on the following:

MONITOR YOUR EYE (39)

FREQUENCY

Monthly or daily if sign or symptoms are noticed.

ITEMS NEEDED TO MONITOR YOUR EYE

  • Know the eye signs and symptoms for early cancer detection.
  • Know what your eyeball and eyelids typically look and feel like
  • Mirror
  • Lit area

ACTION

  • Monitoring your eyes is difficult. Therefore, at least once a year your eyes should be checked by an ophthalmologist for early detection of cancer.
  • Anytime you see a sign or difference between the two eyes consider it a “red flag”. It does not mean you have cancer. If it does not correct itself in one week, contact your ophthalmologist for a professional evaluation.

PROCEDURE

eye changes cancer signs and symptoms

  • Look at each eyeball in the mirror in the same environment each time.
  • Close one eyelid at a time. Use your index finger pressing lightly in a circular motion over the entire eyelid to feel for any lumps or growth.
  • Open both eyes wide in bright light and compare structural or color differences in the eyeball portion of the eye and pupils.

MONITOR YOUR BREAST (FEMALE) (65, 66)

FREQUENCY

If you still menstruate, examine yourself a few days after your monthly period.

If you no longer menstruate, examine yourself on a specific day of the month.

If you are taking hormones, check with your health care provider to determine the best time for monitoring.

ITEMS NEEDED TO MONITOR YOUR BREAST

ACTION

  • Should you spot any signs, consider them a “red flag”. It does not mean you have cancer. If signs do not disappear within one week, contact your medical team for a professional evaluation.

 

PROCEDURE

How to Monitor Your Breast Part 1: TOUCH

Check the OUTER HALF of your right breast. Lie down and roll on to your left side to examine your right breast. Place your right hand, palm up on your forehead. Your breast should lie as flat on your chest as possible. It may be easier and more comfortable if you put a pillow behind your shoulder or back.

Using the flat pads of your three middle fingers—not the tips—move the pads of your fingers in little circles, about the size of a dime. For each little circle, change the amount of pressure so you can feel ALL levels of your breast tissue. Make each circle three times—once light, once medium, and once deep—before you move on to the next area.

Start the circles in your armpit and move down to just below the bra line. Then slide your fingers over—just the width of one finger and move up again. Don’t lift your fingers from your breast as you move them to make sure you feel the entire area. Continue this up-and-down vertical strip pattern—from your collarbone to just below your bra line—until you reach the nipple.

Check the INNER HALF of your right breast. When you reach the nipple, remove pillow and roll onto your back, remove your hand from your forehead and place this arm at a right angle (see drawing). Carefully check the nipple area using the same circular pressures as before, without squeezing. Then examine the remaining breast tissue using the up-and-down vertical strip pattern, until you reach the middle of your chest. Place your non-palpating hand down at your side, make a row of circles above and below your collarbone, working from your shoulder to your mid-line.

Roll on to your right side and repeat these steps on your left breast, using your right hand.

How to Monitor Your Breast Part 2: LOOK

Stand in front of a mirror and look closely at your breasts in the following three positions, viewing from the right and left as well as facing forward. Check for changes in the following:

Shape: Compare one to the other. One breast may normally be larger than the other, but sudden changes in size should not occur.

Skin: Check for rash, redness, puckering, dimpling, or orange-peel-textured appearance.

Nipples: Check for any physical changes such as a sudden inversion, scaliness, redness, itching, swelling, or discharge.

Vein patterns: Look for a noticeable increase in size or number of veins compared to the other breast.
Keep arms at your sides

Arms raised above your head bending forward, and

 

 

Place hands on your hips and hunch over.

 

MONITOR YOUR FINGERNAILS & TOENAILS

FREQUENCY

Monthly or every time you remove nail polish

ITEMS NEEDED TO MONITOR YOUR NAILS

ACTION

  • Should you spot any signs, consider them a “red flag”. It does not mean you have cancer. If signs do not disappear within one week, contact your medical team for a professional evaluation.

 

PROCEDURE

  • Remove nail polish from fingers and toes.
  • Check your fingernails and toenails for any of the signs and symptoms.

cancer self-exam nails

MONITOR YOUR LYMPH NODES (67, 68)

FREQUENCY

Monthly or daily if you see a sign or symptom

ITEMS NEEDED TO MONITOR YOUR LYMPH NODES

  • Know the signs for lymph nodes early cancer detection.
  • Locate Lymph Nodes to be tested per chart below.

ACTION

  • Should you spot any signs, consider them “red flags”. They do not mean you have cancer. If signs do not disappear within one week, contact your medical team for a professional evaluation.

 

PROCEDURE

Head

  • With your fingertips and a gentle circular motion feel the lymph nodes illustrated.
  • Start with the nodes in front of the ear (no. 1), then follow in order finishing just above the collarbone (no. 10).
  • Always check your nodes in this order.
  • Check both sides for comparison. If you have an enlarged lymph node, it may feel firm and the size of a pea or grape.

Neck

  • Tilt your head towards the side you are examining; this helps to relax the muscle.
  • Now press your fingers under the muscle and above collarbone.
  • Hunch your shoulders and bring your elbows forward to relax the skin.

Armpit

  • Sit in a comfortable position.
  • Check each armpit in turn.

To check the left side of your arm, place the fingers of your right hand high into the armpit and then lower your arm.

  • Feel in the central area of the armpit.
  • Check each armpit in turn.

Now move your fingers firmly against the chest wall as follows:

  • Feel along the front border of the armpit.
  • Feel along the back border of the armpit.
  • Feel along the inner border of the arm.

Now check the other armpit in the same way.

Groin

  • Feel horizontally along the groin crease.
  • Feel vertically along the upper thigh.

MONITOR YOUR BREAST (MALE) (69)

FREQUENCY

Monthly

ITEMS NEEDED TO MONITOR YOUR BREAST

male breast check

ACTION

  • If you spot any changes, irregularities, signs, or symptoms consider them “red flags”. They do not mean you have cancer. However, contact your medical team immediately for a professional evaluation.

PROCEDURE

  • Take a warm soapy shower or bath before starting test.
  • Check each breast one at a time.
  • Use your right-hand fingers to check your left breast and your left-hand fingers to check your right breast.
  • With your fingers flat against the breast, press firmly in small, clockwise circles.
  • Start at the outermost top edge of your breast and spiral towards the nipple.
  • Feel for hard lumps or bumps in your breast. Be certain to cover all parts of your breast.
  • Gently squeeze both nipples and look for any discharge.
  • Look at size, shape, and contour of each breast, skin texture.

MONITOR YOUR MOUTH, TONGUE, AND THROAT (71, 72)

FREQUENCY

Monthly, or if you notice a sign or symptom, repeat test every couple days.

ITEMS NEEDED TO MONITOR YOUR ORAL HEALTH

  • Know the oral signs and symptoms for early cancer detection
  • Know what your face typically looks like
  • Mirror
  • Flashlight
  • Camera
  • 2×2 or 3×3 gauze

Changes in Mouth - Cancer Signs & Symptoms

ACTION

  • Should you notice any changes, signs, or symptoms. consider them “red flags”. They do not mean you have cancer. Repeat test. If there is no improvement, contact your dentist or medical team for a professional evaluation.

PROCEDURE

  • Rinse your mouth and throat to remove all particles and ensure no food, liquid, or candy coloring exist.
  • Position yourself in front of a mirror with bright light, a camera, and a flashlight.
  • Remove dentures.
  • Open mouth. Look in the mirror to ensure no coloring from food, liquids, or candy is present.
  • Look at your face in the mirror to see any visual changes.
  • Press along the sides and front of the neck and feel for tenderness or lumps. Do the same on your face. Take note of any bumps or swelling.
  • Pull your upper lip up and look for sores and color changes on your lips and gums. Repeat this procedure on your lower lip.
  • Use your fingers to pull out your cheeks and look for color changes such as red, white, or dark patches. Put your index finger on the inside and your thumb on the outside of your cheeks to feel for any lumps. Repeat on the other cheek.
  • Tilt your head back and open your mouth wide to see if there are lumps, spots, or color changes in the back of your throat.
  • Grab your tongue with cotton gauze and examine for swellings or color changes. Look at the top, back, and each side of your tongue.
  • Touch the roof of your mouth with your tongue and look at the underside of your tongue and the floor of your mouth. See if there are color changes or lumps. When possible, use one finger inside your mouth and one finger on the outside, corresponding to the same place and feel for unusual bumps, swelling or tenderness.
  • Photograph any suspicious areas that are difficult to see.

MONITOR YOUR SCROTUM/TESTICLES (70)

FREQUENCY

Monthly

ITEMS NEEDED TO MONITOR YOUR SCROTUM/TESTICLES

ACTION

  • If you spot any abnormalities consider them “red flags”.  They do not mean you have cancer. However, consult your medical team for a professional evaluation.

 

PROCEDURE

  • Take a warm bath or shower.
  • Stand in front of a mirror. Check for any swelling on the scrotum skin.
  • Examine each testicle with both hands. Place the index and middle fingers under the testicle with the thumbs placed on top. Roll the testicle gently between the thumbs and fingers. Don’t be alarmed if one testicle seems slightly larger than the other. That’s normal.
  • Find the epididymis, the soft, tube-like structure behind the testicle that collects and carries sperm. If you are familiar with this structure, you won’t mistake it for a suspicious lump. Cancerous lumps usually are found on the sides of the testicle but can also show up on the front.

monitor your testicles for cancer

MONITOR YOUR SKIN (73)

FREQUENCY

Monthly

ITEMS NEEDED TO MONITOR YOUR SKIN

ACTION

  • Update baseline chart.
  • Take photos of any suspected changes that have occurred and compare to previous photos.
  • If you notice any changes, consider them “red flags”. They do not mean you have cancer. However, contact your dermatologist or medical team for a professional evaluation.

 

PROCEDURE

Examine your face, especially your nose, lips, mouth, and ears – front and back. Use one or both mirrors to get a clear view.

Thoroughly inspect your scalp, using a blow dryer and mirror to expose each section to view. Get a friend or family member to help, if you can.

Check your hands carefully: palms and backs, between the fingers and under the fingernails. Continue up the wrists to examine both the front and back of your forearms.

Standing in front of the full-length mirror, begin at the elbows and scan all sides of your upper arms. Don’t forget the underarms.

Next, focus on the neck, chest, and torso. Women should lift breasts to view the undersides.

With your back to the full-length mirror, use the hand mirror to inspect the back of your neck, shoulders, upper back and any part of the back of your upper arms you could not view in step 4.

Still using both mirrors, scan your lower back, buttocks, and backs of both legs.

Sit down; prop each leg in turn on the other stool or chair. Use the hand mirror to examine the genitals. Check the front and sides of both legs, thigh to shin, ankles, tops of feet, between toes and under toenails. Examine soles of the feet and heels.

MONITOR YOUR TEMPERATURE

FREQUENCY

Take your temperature monthly.

ITEMS NEEDED TO MONITOR YOUR TEMPERATURE

ACTION

  • If you have a temperature over 100.4 ° F (38° C) on a regular basis consider it a “red flag”. This does not mean you have cancer. However, consult your medical team for a professional evaluation.

 

 

PROCEDURE

  • Use thermometer to check your temperature.
  • Temperature should be taken at the same time(s) of day, and after similar activities and conditions. Consult your doctor if you are menstruating.
  • If your temperature hovers above 100.4 ° F (38° C), take your temperature daily and record on temperature chart.

temperature self-exam

MONITOR YOUR THYROID (75)

FREQUENCY

Monthly

ITEMS NEEDED TO MONITOR YOUR THYROID

ACTION

  • If you spot any abnormalities, consider them “red flags”. They do not mean you have cancer. However, consult your medical team for a professional evaluation.

 

PROCEDURE

 

  • Locate your thyroid gland, which is above your collarbone and below your larynx (or voice box). Don’t confuse your
    thyroid with your Adam’s apple, which is above the thyroid gland.
  • Keeping your focus on this part of the neck, tip your head back, then swallow a drink of water.
  • Look at your neck in the mirror while you swallow. Check for any static or moving bumps.

 

MONITOR YOUR URINE & STOOL

FREQUENCY

Every time you urinate or have a bowel movement.

ITEMS NEEDED TO MONITOR YOUR URINE & STOOL

ACTION

  • Should you spot any signs, consider them “red flags”. They do not mean you have cancer.  Contact your medical team for a professional evaluation.

PROCEDURE

  • Look at your waste before flushing.

MONITOR YOUR WEIGHT

FREQUENCY

Weigh yourself once a week. If unexpected weight loss occurs, then check your weight twice per week.

ITEMS NEEDED TO MONITOR YOUR WEIGHT

ACTION

  • If you notice an unexplained increase or decrease in weight (10 pounds or 5 kilograms) over a two-month period, consider it a “red flag”. It does not mean you have cancer. However, consult your medical team for a professional evaluation.

 

 

PROCEDURE

  • Weigh yourself at the same time of day, wearing similar clothing and preferably using the same scale.
  • Record the date and your weight.

Proceed to Step 3 in the Spotting Cancer Program:  

Screening & Testing Routines

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Source: Chect.org 

Source: MrHealthyNFit

Source: Bestie YouTube Channel 

Source: Melanoma UK

Source: The Male Breast Cancer Coalition 

Source: Prevention Magazine

Source: American Academy of Dermatology

Source: Meghan Cammaert, Majeda Eldali and Bienka Rosch from Algonquin College Dental Hygiene Class of 2014
Sources used to make video Health Canada and Ontario Dental Hygienist's Association

Source: NHS Ealing Clinical Commissioning Group

Source: LIVESTRONG.COM