Pollution, genetics and lifestyle choices are all risk factors for breast cancer. If you smoke cigarettes or use deodorants with aluminum, you are at higher risk. When cancer is detected earlier, treatments are often more successful The best strategy for early detection is to do a monthly self breast exam. Follow up with a doctor if you find a suspicious lump. You cannot tell by yourself whether a lump is benign or cancerous. Men are also at risk for breast cancer and should do exams. To check yourself out:
~With your chest uncovered, sit or stand in a comfortable position. Consider showering beforehand to release muscle tension and make it easier to feel.
~Put one arm over your head with your elbow bent to expose the skin around your armpit. With your middle three fingers of the opposite hand, gently palpate the tissue from the lymph nodes in your armpit to the bottom of your breasts.
~Cover all the breast tissue on that side with an overlapping pattern of palpating.
~If there are any suspicious lumps, most likely they will have the consistency of frozen peas. Breasts are lumpy by nature, but not hard. Repeat for your other breast.
~If you have a partner whose help you would enjoy, teach them how to do your exam!
Breasts are more tender around ovulation and menstruation, so doing your exam at a similar time each cycle helps reduce false-positives. Knowing your breasts can help you know if something is wrong.