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Most breast cancer is first discovered by women themselves. Since breast cancer found early and treated promptly has an excellent chance for cure, learning how to examine your breasts properly can help save your life. Use the simple 3-step breast self-examination (BSE) procedure described below.
It is important to examine your breasts each month, at the same point in your menstrual cycle. Do not examine them during your menstrual period. Before the period, a woman's breast may swell and become tender or lumpy. This usually decreases after the period. Follow the same procedure once a month about I week after your period, when your breasts are usually not tender or swollen. After menopause or after a hysterectomy, check your breasts on the first day of each month.
Standing undressed in a well-lighted room facing a mirror that allows you to see your breasts:
For best result, this step should be done along with each of the other evaluations (steps).
If a lump, dimple or discharge is discovered during a self exam, it is important to see your health care provider as soon as possible. Don't be frightened. Most breast lumps or changes are not cancer, but only your health care provider can make the diagnosis. Remember, however, that your monthly breast exam is not a substitute for an examination by a medical professional. See your health care provider once a year (more often if you are in a risk group) and get a mammogram as recommended. According to American Cancer Society, ages 35-39 one baseline mammogram; over age 40, one every year.