The Four Steps to Breast Self-Awareness

Except for skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, but it can be successfully treated. Breast self-awareness is your best-bet strategy for helping to ensure your breast health. And this doesn't mean just performing occasional breast self-exams in the shower — which is a good tool for getting to know what is normal for you — but you need to know you. Does breast cancer run in your family? It's a good idea to find out. What screening tests are appropriate for your age and level of risk? Discuss both with your doctor and schedule your screenings appropriately.

Take a look at our Four Steps to Breast Self-Awareness below and make sure you take care of you!

1Know your risk

  • Talk to your family to learn about your family health history
  • Talk to your provider about your personal risk of breast cancer

2Get screened

  • Ask your doctor which screening tests are right for you if you are at a higher risk
  • Have a mammogram every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk
  • Have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years starting at age 20, and every year starting at age 40

3Know what is normal for you

See your health care provider if you notice any of these breast changes:

  • Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
  • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
  • Change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin
  • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
  • Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
  • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
  • New pain in one spot that doesn't go away

4Make healthy lifestyle choices

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Add exercise into your routine
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Limit postmenopausal hormone use
  • Breastfeed, if you can