Breast self-exams (BSE) are one of the best ways for women to detect slight changes in their own bodies. Seeing your gynecologist each year for routine screenings will detect major problems, but many believe that being aware of how your body looks and feels every month is one of the most important things you can do for your own good health.
According to WebMD, many doctors recommend that women start breast self-exams in their 20s, and that you should be checking for changes like lumps or thickenings.
>>Read more: How to Perform a Self Breast Exam
The leading breast cancer screening tool is mammography. Although the BSE is not an effective breast cancer screening tool alone, it’s important to be familiar with your body and any changes it may go through as you age. The following signs should be reported to your doctor right away, according to the Susan G. Komen Foundation:
- Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
- Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
- Change in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
- Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
- New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away
Knowing your body and understanding its subtle changes can help you be aware sooner if something is wrong. Finding something suspicious doesn’t mean you have to panic, though! Armed with your own knowledge, you can be a vital partner to your doctor along the path to optimum health.
>>Read more: Self Exam Horror: You Found A Lump