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Women are often the best judges of what’s “normal” when it comes to their bodies. Monthly breast self-exams can keep you familiar with the look and feel of your breasts, making it easier to identify and share any changes with your primary care provider. Most women will notice changes throughout the month. In this normal pattern of change, breasts can feel swollen, tender, lumpy and sometimes painful.
For the most accurate exam, you should check your breasts when they are least filled with fluid. This will be on the last day of most women’s period or several days after. Women who are pregnant or menopausal can select any day of the month, but should stay consistent with their choice. Breastfeeding mothers should check after pumping or feeding when their breasts are ‘empty.’ They may find they can only check one breast at a time.
Finding something new does not necessarily mean something’s wrong, but you should always report any concerning changes to a professional.
Your best chance against breast cancer will involve monthly breast self-exams, yearly clinical breast exams and mammograms on the appropriate schedule.