It’s important for a person to be aware of their breast health. This often is the first step in recognizing that there may be a problem.
Most people are aware of what the normal look and feel of their breast tissue are. Performing monthly breast self-exams can be an important way for a woman to feel or see anything that may be different. There has been some debate as to the effectiveness of breast self-exams, but several organizations still feel that it is a useful and important breast screening tool.
The recommendation for pre-menopausal women is to do the exam at the same time each month, between 7-10 days after the onset of menstruation. For post-menopausal women, the breast exam should be done on the same day every month.
If any of the following changes can be felt or seen, follow up with a health care professional is recommended.
Feeling a new lump or mass
Changes to the skin, including skin irritations, skin dimpling (with an orange peel-like appearance), and redness or scaling on the nipple and/or skin of the breast
Nipple pain, discharge, or retraction
A trained healthcare provider will complete a medical history, including questions about a patient’s other risk factors or health problems. A physical examination is also done to assess their overall health, and more closely examine both breasts.
Different types of breast imaging, including mammography, ultrasound, or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) are used to diagnose benign breast conditions. Sometimes a breast biopsy is also done.