A Breast Self-Exam is an essential screening strategy, especially when used in combination with regular physical exams by a doctor and mammography. It is not intended to replace these critical components However, nearly 20% of breast cancers are found by physical examination rather than by mammography. Therefore, we strongly recommend that all women routinely perform breast self-exams as part of their overall breast cancer screening strategy.
A Breast Self-Exam is easy to do and will just take a few minutes. And should be performed by all adult women. Perform the exam monthly to familiarize yourself with how your breasts normally look and feel. Examine yourself several days after your period ends, when your breasts are least likely to be swollen and tender. If you are no longer having periods, choose a day that’s easy to remember, such as the first or last day of the month.
Over the course of several months you will get to know the look and feel of YOUR breasts. You will begin to notice if something stands or if something has changed.
We suggest you keep a journal to record the findings of your breast self-exams. You can include notes and diagrams—like a small map of your breasts—where you feel lumps or irregularities.
If you find a lump, experience nipple discharge or have other concerns, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with your doctor, but don’t panic—only about 20% of lumps are cancerous.
Here are the Three Steps to Your Monthly Breast Self Exam: