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Duke Medicine: Touch your breasts

Posted October 8, 2012 8:45 p.m. EDT

There, we said it. We want you to touch your breasts because research shows that performing regular self-breast exams is one way you can take charge of your health and possibly find a breast lump.

If you're a women in your 20s or older, the American Cancer Society encourages you to use a systematic, step-by-step approach to analyze the look and feel of your breasts regularly – ideally monthly after you menstruate. Performing the exam on a regular basis will make it easier for you to get to know how your breasts, and detect any changes if and when they occur. That's the ultimate goal: to be on the lookout for any changes in your breasts and report them right away to your health care provider. (Fortunately, most lumps are not cancer, but clinicians can help you determine if they are).

The best way to learn to perform a self-breast exam is by reviewing the technique with your health care provider during your next physical exam. If that makes you uncomfortable, know that simply looking and feeling your breasts while showering or getting dressed in the morning can also make a difference. Or, you can follow these simple directions, provided as a public service by the Duke Cancer Institute.

Click here to learn the basics of self-breast exam. It will only take a minute, and it may make a lifetime of difference.

Reviewed by Kathy Trotter, DNP, Duke Cancer Institute

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