The Importance of Self Breast Examinations

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These days, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women. The good news is early detection increases the chances that the cancer can be treated effectively. Women in their 20s should begin receiving a yearly clinical breast exam, and women in their 40s should receive a yearly mammogram. But women of all ages should regularly self-examine the breast area, preferably once a month, for signs of unusual lumps or changes. While you may not feel comfortable at first, just remember that it could save your life!

First, look at the breasts for unusual coloring, dents, or lumps. You can get the best look by stand up straight in front of a mirror with your arms raised above your head. Pay attention to the area around the nipple and make sure both breasts look about the same.

Second, lie down and put one arm above your head. Lying down is the best way to examine the breast since the breast tissue will spread as thin as possible, making it easier to feel the breast tissue. Feel the breast thoroughly by starting at the area under your armpit and going in a circular motion until you reach the nipple, using different levels of pressure in all areas. Repeat the same procedure on the other side and call your doctor if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

While finding a breast change does not necessarily indicate cancer, it is best to talk to your gynecologist about any concerns you have. He or she will be able to answer all questions you have and help put your mind at ease.

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