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A woman doing a self breast exam to check for lumps as signs for breast cancer

In the fight against breast cancer, it's important to regularly check how your breasts feel and look to detect any potential issues as early as possible. Women are often the ones who first notice changes during a breast self-exam, and the earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the chances of successful treatment.

Starting at age 18, it's recommended that all women perform a monthly breast self-exam to look for lumps or any other changes. Beginning when you’re younger gives you a good reference point for future exams. Remember, this is in addition to having annual checkups with your healthcare provider and regular mammograms.

There are a few ways to do a breast self-exam. You can stand in front of a mirror and visually examine your breasts, checking for any visible changes. You can also do this in the shower by using your fingers to feel for any lumps or abnormalities. Another option is to lay down and perform a self-exam.

Use different levels of pressure with your fingers during a self-exam. Start by feeling the tissue closer to your skin. Then press a bit deeper, and finally deep into the breast tissue closer to your chest wall.

During a self-exam, keep an eye out for any thickening or hard knots inside your breast or under your arm. Redness, darkening, swelling, or warmth in your breast are also signs to look for, along with changes in the shape or size of your breast, puckering or dimpling of your breast's skin, or any discharge from your nipple.

You should perform a monthly breast self-exam about a week after your period ends. If you no longer menstruate, you can pick a specific day of the month and stick to that. If you're taking hormones, it's a good idea to consult with your doctor about the best time to perform your monthly breast self-exam.

Most breast lumps are not cancerous, so finding one doesn't automatically mean you have breast cancer. However, if your breast self-exam reveals something abnormal, it's important to make an appointment to see your doctor and get it checked out. They will be able to provide a proper evaluation and guide you on the next steps.

Women in the Southgate and Brownstown area can depend on Northline Women’s Health Center for breast care and all your women’s health needs. Discover our services or request an appointment online.

Northline Women's Health Center Locations:

15675 Northline Road

Southgate, MI 48195

(734) 282-3600
(734) 282-3603 - Fax

23050 West Road, Suite 210

Brownstown Twp., MI 48183

(734) 362-7000
(734) 362-7077 - Fax