Early detection of breast lumps is important. Conducting regular breast self-exams is a good way to get to know your breasts so that you can identify if your breasts change. If you notice new breast changes, discuss these with your primary health care provider. Though most breast changes detected during a breast self-exam have benign causes, some changes may signal something serious, such as breast cancer. Your primary health care provider will refer you for additional care if the change is concerning.
To perform a breast self-exam for breast awareness, use a methodical approach that ensures you cover your entire breast. For instance, imagine that your breasts are divided into equal wedges, like pieces of a pie, and sweep your fingers along each piece in toward your nipple.
Breast cancer symptoms
General warning signs of breast cancer include:
- General breast pain
- A new lump in the breast
- Breast thickening or swelling
- Shift in the breast shape or size
- Changes in the nipple, or a nipple that begins to turn inward
- Discharge from your nipple
- Changes to the skin covering your breast, such as dimpling, puckering, redness or scaling
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your health care provider as soon as possible.