Though you may be getting your regular mammograms as you should, did you know that you should still be performing monthly breast exams? Doctors recommend that you check yourself for lumps or other irregularities once a month, partly so you know what “normal” is for you (some of us have lumpy breasts, go figure). Checking regularly doesn’t only get you more familiar with your breasts, it also can help you identify changes such as lumps or other irregularities that may strike you as odd. If you do encounter something unusual, it’s best to call your physician right away to have an exam. But, in the meantime, keep reading to learn how you can take power into your own hands by performing your own monthly breast checks.
A Quick Overview
There are many resources online that go into the detail of your at-home breast exam, so we will go over the basics here. First, stand with your hands on your hips and look at yourself in the mirror. After a shower or before may be helpful, so you can properly see the shape of the breasts. Look and see if you notice any lumps, swells, or bumps that make them uneven. Do the same with your hands above your head. Look for puckering of the skin, as well.
After that, lie down on a flat surface and use your opposite hand to feel the breast entirely for any lumps or irregularities. We recommend doing this check around the same time every month, to account for changes due to your monthly cycle. If you do notice anything strange, call your physician and book an appointment right away.
Risk Factors for Breast Cancer
If you’re concerned about breast cancer, it can help to know what you can do to lower your risk. If you have any of the factors below, know that it may increase your risk of developing breast cancer:
- Eat a diet high in processed, fatty foods
- Little to no exercise (less than 45 minutes a day, five days a week)
- Drinking alcohol
- Exposure to Estrogen-mimicking substances such as the Birth Control Pill or hormones in meat
- Family history of breast cancer