By performing breast self-exams, you can become familiar with the normal monthly changes in your breasts. Breast self-examination should be performed at the same time each month, three to five days after your menstrual period ends. If you have stopped menstruating, perform the exam on the same day of each month.
The warning signs of breast cancer include:
- Lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm that persists through the menstrual cycle
- A mass or lump that may feel as small as a pea
- A change in the size, shape, color or contour of the breast
- A blood-stained or clear fluid discharge from the nipple
- A change in the feel or appearance of the skin on the breast or nipple (dimpled, puckered, scaly or inflamed)
- An area that is distinctly different from any other area on either breast, such as a bruise that doesn't go away
These changes may be found when performing monthly breast self-exams. Only your doctor can make a diagnosis. Call to schedule an appointment with your physician if any, or a combination, of these warning signs appear. Mammography is the "gold standard" and most widely accepted tool for detecting breast cancer.
Visit Susan G. Komen for the Cure, http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/BreastSelfExam.html where you will find more information on breast self-exams, as well as interactive tools that may help you learn what is normal for you.