• A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area.
A woman should see her doctor if she notices any of these changes. Most often, they are not cancer, but only a doctor can tell for sure. Breast exams save lives!
There are four important early detection procedures:
Check for any lumps, hard knots, swelling, dimpling, or thickening. Observe for abnormal change of size, shape, color or discharge.
Standing in front of a mirror, look at both breasts while your arms are at your sides. While raising your arms slowly, look for swelling or changes in nipples or breasts. With your hands on your hips, flex your chest muscles and compare your breasts. While in the shower, extend your right arm up and examine your right breast. Switch (extend left arm, examine left breast).
While reclined on your bed or floor on your back, place a pillow under your right shoulder so your right breast is flat. Examine your right breast with your right arm under your head. Switch (place pillow under left shoulder and examine left breast).
Mammography should be done only by specially trained medical staff using equipment designed for taking x-rays of the breast. The x-ray images should be read and interpreted by a qualified radiologist. (See information about new digital mammography.)
Mammography screening remains the single most effective method to detect breast cancer in early stages. However, because no medical test is always 100% accurate, mammography is no exception. Therefore, it is important for women to have their breasts examined regularly by a doctor or nurse and perform BSE's.