The best way to find breast lumps that may be cancer is to do 3 things:
Have regular mammograms.
Have your doctor check your breasts.
Check your breasts yourself every month.
Doing all of these things gives you the best chance to find cancer as early as you can. Finding breast cancer early makes treatment much easier and more effective. More than 90 out of 100 women whose breast cancer is found early will be cured.
How To Check Your Breasts
Start by standing in front of a mirror. Look at your breasts with your arms at your side, with your arms raised behind your head, and with your arms on your hips and your chest muscles flexed.
Next, lie down with a pillow under your left shoulder. Put your left hand behind your head and feel your left breast with the pads of the 3 middle fingers on your right hand. Start at the outer edge and work around your breast in circles, getting closer to your nipple with each circle. After you’ve finished checking your breast, squeeze your nipple gently and look for discharge (fluid coming out of the nipple).
Do the same thing to your right breast with a pillow under your right shoulder. Be sure to include the area up to your collarbone and out to your armpit. You have lymph nodes in this area. Cancer can spread to lymph node tissue.
What Am I Looking For
Any new lump (which may or may not be painful or tender)
Unusual thickening of your breasts
Sticky or bloody discharge from your nipples
Any changes in the skin of your nipples or breasts, such as puckering or dimpling
An unusual increase in the size of one breast
One breast unusually lower than the other
Why Mammogram When I Can Check My Breasts In Privacy Of My Home
A mammogram is the most effective way to find breast cancer early, up to 2 years before the lump is even large enough to feel. A mammogram is a special kind of x-ray of your breasts. The amount of radiation used in the x-ray is very small. Mammograms detect cancer because cancer is denser (thicker) than the normal part of the breast. A radiologist will look at the x-rays for signs of cancer or other breast problems.
The goal of screening exams, such as mammograms, is to find cancers before they start to cause symptoms. Breast cancers that are found because they can be felt tend to be larger and are more likely to have already spread beyond the breast. In contrast, breast cancers found during screening exams are more likely to be small and still confined to the breast. Women age 40 and over should get a mammogram every 1 to 2 years. If you have risk factors for breast cancer, such as a family history of breast cancer, your doctor may want you to have mammograms more often or start having them sooner.