Women of all ages are encouraged to perform breast self-exams at least once a month.

Almost 40 percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, according to Johns Hopkins Medical Centers. So, establishing a schedule for regular breast self-exams is very important.

Three Ways to Perform Self-Exam

In the shower:
Using your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside of the breast to the nipple, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts in this manner at least once per month for any signs of a lump, thickening, or a hardened knot. Keep a journal. Note any changes, and have ANY lumps evaluated by a doctor.

In front of a mirror:
Visually inspect your breasts in the mirror with your arms held at your sides. Next, raise your arms as high as you can over head.
Look for changes in the shape, and contour. Also look for any swelling, dimpling of the skin or changes in the nipples.
Next, rest your palms on your hips and flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not be identical, but look for dimpling, puckering or changes.

Lying down:
While lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest. Put a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move your fingers around your right breast in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit. Repeat these motions on the other side.

Source: NationalBreastCancer.org

Photo: vita khorzhevska/Shutterstock