Know more, so there's no more


Got a question about breast cancer? The answer may be here.

Q: How often should I go to my doctor for a check-up?
A: You should have a physical every year, which should include a clinical breast exam and pelvic exam. If any unusual symptoms or changes in your breasts occur before your scheduled visit, see your doctor immediately.

Q: How often should I do a breast self-exam?
A: Give yourself a breast self-exam once a month. Look for any changes in breast tissue, such as changes in size, feeling a palpable lump, dimpling or puckering of the breast, inversion of the nipple, redness or scaliness of the breast skin, redness or scaliness of the nipple/areola area, or discharge of secretions from the nipple.

Q: When should I contact a doctor?
A: If you discover a persistent lump in your breast or any changes, it is very important that you see a physician immediately. Though eight out of 10 lumps are benign, all require an evaluation.

Q: When should I do a breast self-exam?
A: Women should perform their breast self-exam 7-10 days after their period starts, which is also when their breasts are the least tender and lumpy. If they are no longer menstruating, then they should select the same day of the month (first of the month, for example) and mark it on a calendar. It is not unusual to have lumpy or bumpy breasts. All women should know the geography of their own breasts. If you are having trouble remembering, draw a diagram of where you feel lumps, bumps, grooves, and other findings so that this can be used as a reminder from month to month. There is no added value in doing breast self-exams more often than monthly.

Taken from the National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc. For more info, see nationalbreastcancer.org.