One of the key messages that surrounds breast cancer awareness month is self-awareness, both in terms of your risk factors as well as your body and its changes. Knowing your normal, and deviations from it, can be life saving.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Institute recommends that “Women should be familiar with their breasts and promptly report changes to their healthcare provider.” This recommendation is made for women of all ages, and especially for those who are at increased risk of breast cancer due to a personal or family history. In order for women to take note of relevant changes, they must know their normal.
Performing a breast self-exam once a month can help you identify what feels normal for your breast tissue. Wait until about a week after your period ends to perform your breast exam, as your breasts are less likely to be swollen at this time. Having temporary lumps and bumps in your breasts can be quite common, so getting used to the topography of your breasts will help you identify if something is out of the ordinary for yourself. Changes are important to notice, and the final word on anything suspicious should always come from your physicians.