Adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform a breast self-exam at least once a month. If you’re new to breast self-exams, here are some guidelines:
- Pick the same time of the month – Because of the normal hormonal fluctuations in a woman’s body that affect breast tissue, it is important to select the same time every month so you will be able to distinguish between a normal change and something that feels different.
- Premenopausal Women: Do your exam toward the end of your menstrual period. The end of the menstrual cycle is the time when hormonal changes have the least influence on breast tissue, and the breasts are the least tender.
- Postmenopausal Women: Choose a day of the month (e.g., the 1st or 15th of the month) and consistently perform your breast self-exam on that same day every month.
- Examine your breasts in the shower – Use circular motions to identify the geography of your breasts. The first few times you do this may feel strange. But you will get to know the feeling of each breast so well, that if a change does occur you’ll notice it immediately.
- Perform the exam again that same day but lying down – This way you will develop a feeling for your breasts in a different position, allowing for greater knowledge of the way your breasts feel. Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.