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Breast Cancer Self-Exams: The Importance & How-To

Why Self-Exams Are Important

Breast Cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the US. 1 in 8 US women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime.

These statistics may seem daunting, but catching breast cancer is the key to increasing the survival rate of those diagnosed. 

Seeing a physician at least once a year for a professional breast cancer screening is essential, but it is also important to conduct self-exams once a month to catch the signs that could come about between professional screenings. 

Knowing how to check and what is necessary to report to your doctor is important and information that every woman, and man, should be aware of. Here are the basic steps:

†The information and supporting material on this website are for informational purposes only. The objective of this website is to offer broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health, wellness, and cosmetic topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Conducting a self-exam once a month will help you get familiar with how your normal, healthy breasts look and feel. This will be valuable to compare if you notice something different or abnormal come about.
Everyone's breasts are different, and some areas of the breast may be naturally "lumpier" than other areas. Also, some women have lumps or bumps that appear and recede depending on their menstrual cycle. Knowing what is normal for you is important. If something abnormal comes about and stays longer than a full cycle, it may be worth contacting your doctor. 

Consider keeping a diagram or journal every month to note was is normal for you and remind yourself.

Much research has found that lumps found in self-exams are often false-positives, so make sure to stay calm and simply tell your doctor you found something abnormal for you.
To conduct the most effective exam, it is to your interest to follow guidelines provided by professionals. The Maurer Foundation has a fabulous step by step self-exam laid out with helpful photos and diagrams available here.

It is also a great idea to ask your doctor to show you how to do a self-exam at one of your yearly visits.

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A strong, trusting relationship with your physician can make all the difference if something is ever abnormal. Catalyst strives to create meaningful connections with all our patients and provide the best individualized care.

*The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.