Many breast tumors are found by women during a breast self-exam. Therefore, it is crucial for you to become familiar with your breasts. By examining your breasts every month, you will familiarize yourself with what is normal for you, and you will be able to recognize changes more easily.
Possible signs of breast cancer are lumps you can see or feel, dimpling or puckering of the breast skin, changes in the contour or shape of the breast, thickening of the breast, and any discharge from the nipple. Call your doctor immediately to report any of these signs that you find during your breast self-exam. While most lumps and changes in the breast are not due to cancer, ignoring warning signs removes your best defense: early detection.
The American Medical Association and the American Cancer Society suggest that all women have a baseline mammogram between ages 35 to 39 followed by screening mammograms at one to two-year intervals between ages 40 to 49. The guidelines call for a mammogram once a year after age 50. Women who have a sister or mother with breast cancer are considered high risk. Therefore, it is recommended they have a mammogram every one to two years beginning at age 35. Early detection is vital because the cure rate for breast cancer is high when found at an early stage.