Breast cancer is often detected after symptoms appear, however many women with breast cancer have no symptoms. Because of this, it’s important to perform monthly self-exams and annual exams with your doctor to increase your chances of finding breast cancer before it spreads.

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Types of Breast Exams

  • Clinical Breast Exam

  • Monthly Self-Breast Exam

  • Mammogram

  • Further Imaging Tests

  • Biopsy

  • Lab Tests with Breast Tissue

Annual screenings are instrumental in early breast cancer detection. Doctors recommend that women have their regular clinical breast exams and mammograms, which aid in detecting breast cancer in early stages. Women in their 20’s and 30’s should have clinical breast examinations during their yearly physical. At age 40, women with average breast cancer risk typically begin annual mammograms. It is important to remember that not all breast cancers are found through mammography.

Although you should have your physician perform a breast examination annually as part of your well-woman checkup, it is important that you maintain a routine habit of monthly self-examination. If you feel a lump in your breast tissue, contact your physician to schedule an examination to determine whether other tests or biopsies are required.

Those who detect breast cancer early have a 98% survival rate.

Be Proactive and Perform Monthly Self Breast Exams

When you are regularly examining your breasts, you become familiar with how they normally look and feel, and you are more likely to recognize any changes. When performing your monthly examination, you need to look for any changes or irregularity in your breasts.

Have you noticed any of these changes in the breast or underarm area?

  • Lump/Knots

  • Swelling

  • Pain

  • Redness/Itching

  • Dimpling

  • Puckering

  • Discharge

  • Size/Shape

Remember your role in self-examination can help diagnosed breast cancer. Your monthly self-examination should not take the place of your annual well-woman checkup, but it should be performed in addition to in order to improve your chances of an early breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and cure.

5 Step Self Breast Exam

  1. Stand with your shoulders straight and your arms by your side. Look at your breast in the mirror. You are looking for any changes in your breast (size, color, shape, etc.).
  2. Next, raise your arms and look for the same changes.
  3. While you are looking at the mirror, check for any signs of discharge (fluid) coming out of one or both nipples. The discharge could be a watery, milky or yellow fluid or blood.
  4. Next, examine your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion, about the size of a quarter. Examine the entire breast area, including your armpit and cleavage.
  5. Lastly, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. For some women it is easiest to examine their breasts while in the shower. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand motion described in step 4.
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