Many experts now say that women should focus on breast self-awareness instead of doing a breast self-examination (BSE). These experts include the American Cancer Society, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Some experts even advise not teaching women to do BSEs. That’s because research hasn’t shown a clear benefit to doing BSEs.
Changes to look for
Call your provider if you find any changes in your breasts that concern you. These changes may include:
- A lump
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, especially a bloody discharge
- A change in size or shape
- Skin irritation, such as redness, thickening, or dimpling of the skin
- Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit
- Nipple problems, such as pain or redness
What if I find a lump?
Contact your provider if you find lumpiness in one breast, feel something different in the tissue, or feel a definite lump. Sometimes the lumpiness may be due to menstrual changes. But there may be reason for concern.
Your provider may want to see you right away if you have:
- Nipple discharge that is bloody
- Skin changes on your breast, such as dimpling or puckering
It’s normal to be upset if you find a lump. But it’s important to contact your provider right away. Remember that most breast lumps are benign. This means they are not cancer.