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Weekend Doctor: Self-breast awareness

By Jessica L. Otto, R.T. (R) (M) (CT)
Mammography Tech, EasternWoods Outpatient Center

Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the world today. Self-breast education and awareness for the public are crucial for each and every one of us in our own personal health. As we go through different phases of life, our bodies are constantly evolving. For all individuals, it should be a key principle to be self-aware of one’s breast health. By being self-aware, we should be able to observe any change that may occur. Noticing any abnormal changes could lead to earlier breast cancer detection. Self-awareness is one of the keys to early detection of breast cancer, as well as self-breast exams, clinical breast exams, and screening mammograms. Detecting breast cancer early often leads to a better prognosis. 


Promoting self-breast awareness is pivotal for all people and populations. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, in 2024, an estimated 310,720 women and 2,800 men will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Breast cancer can occur in men, women, and in any race; it is not confined to only a certain population, gender or ethnicity. Therefore, all communities should promote and educate about self-breast awareness. It is important that people are empowered to learn and recognize what is “normal” for their health so that they can make more confident decisions regarding their own health. By individuals being confident in their own health, they will be able to identify any subtle changes. 

Performing a self-breast exam monthly can help one to learn how their breast tissue normally looks and feels. One should be able to identify any changes by checking for abnormalities, such as lumps in the tissue of the breast. Remember to check the underarm area as well for any changes in the tissues. Pay close attention to the size and shape of your breast and the appearance of your skin, including dimpling, puckering, warmth, rash, redness, swelling, and darkening of the skin. Pay close attention to the nipple area as well, looking for any discharge, pain, lump, scaly or itchy rash around or near the nipple. It is very crucial with any change to the breast area that one consults with their doctor expeditiously, as it could be a warning sign there may be a breast issue. All signs of breast cancer are not necessarily the same for everyone. 

The emphasis on breast health education and self-awareness benefits the entire community. It is an important factor in empowering you and your loved ones to recognize their “normal” breasts and have the tools to recognize changes. If you have any concerns, please contact your healthcare provider promptly to consult with them in your care.