Know Your Breasts

Early detection of breast cancer starts with you.

How do I get to know my breasts?

We recommend the 3-step approach to breast cancer screening recommended by the College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which includes, based on a woman’s age, a combination of mammography, clinical breast exams, and breast self-exams.

      • Monthly breast self-exam beginning by age 20
      • Clinical breast exam at least every 3 years beginning at age 20, and annually from age 40 on
      • Annual screening mammograms beginning at age 40

Women with a family history of breast cancer or other concerns about their personal risk should consult with a health care provider. Screening tests may need to be done more often and/or started earlier than usual.

As part of a total approach to women’s health, women should become familiar with their own bodies, play an active role in their health, and develop a close partnership with their health care providers. Remember, pay attention to your body, and if something feels new, different, or not normal to you, contact your health care provider immediately.

How to complete a breast self-exam

Check your boobies 6 days after your period (or on the first day of the month, if you no longer have periods).

Do it in the shower, while your body is wet and soapy. Use the pads of 3 fingers to check each breast for lumps. Move your fingers in a row pattern. Up and down all the way across one breast and then the other. Areas to check:

      • Outside: armpit to collar bone, and below breast
      • Middle: the breast itself
      • Inside: the nipple area

Things to look for after you shower:

      • Liquid coming from nipples
      • Puckering of the skin
      • Redness or swelling
      • Change in size or shape