Breast Cancer Awareness & Early Diagnosis: How To Do A Breast Self Exam

By Alexis Wolfer

While mammograms are the gold standard of breast cancer detection, many women  (especially women younger than 40, the age at which it is recommended for average-risk women to begin getting yearly mammograms) find lumps in their breast themselves -making self-exams the ideal detection tool for women younger than 40 and an instrumental supplement to clinical exams for women over 40 as well. Yet how many of us actually know the proper technique and what exactly we’re looking and feeling for? (We certainly didn’t.)

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Similarly unsure? Check out this video from Susan G. Komen on how to properly conduct a self-exam and contact your doctor if you notice the following:

Lump, hard knot or thickening
Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening
Change in the size or shape of the breast
Dimpling or puckering of the skin
Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away

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A breast self-exam is a tool designed to help you become more familiar with the way your breasts normally look and feel. So while Dr. Susan Love accurately points out on her website that most women don’t find signs of breast cancer through an official breast self-exam but rather accidentally, it is nevertheless essential to know what “normal” is for you so that you can detect anything “abnormal.” And what better way to know what’s normal and to detect changes than by scheduling a monthly check in with your breasts?

Plan your self exams with this stylish planner!