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Take Control of Your Breast Health: Understand Your Normal

While we encourage annual mammograms, one of the best proactive measures you can take for your breast health is to empower yourself with knowledge. Understanding how your breasts routinely feel and look is important so that if you detect any changes, you can discuss them with your physician.

“In addition to breast self-exams, we recommend that women focus on breast self-awareness. Knowing how your breasts normally look and feel will help you identify changes that may be signs of breast cancer,” said Elizabeth Kraft, M.D., a breast surgeon at Hoag’s Breast Center. Here are some tips on how to achieve breast-awareness and proactive steps you can take if you feel something abnormal like a lump.

What is breast self-awareness and how do you achieve it?

“Start with a visual exam, standing in front of a mirror with your arms at your side, then with your hands on your hips and finally with your hands above your head and your palms pushed together. This allows you to check for puckering, dimpling or changes in shape, size or symmetry,” said Dr. Kraft. “Remember to perform this exam during a time in your menstrual cycle when your breasts are not tender.”

For a physical self-exam, use the pads of your first three fingers and move over your breasts in a methodical pattern (such as clockwise) from near the collarbone toward the nipple.

How do you find out whether that lump is cancer?

“Identifying if something has changed in the look or feel of your breasts is the first step. Next, it is important to consult with your medical provider. Your Hoag gynecologist and primary care provider are your wellness partners. They will help guide you through scheduling proper diagnostic tests such as a mammogram, ultrasound and/or biopsy, particularly if a lump in your breast persists for more than two or three weeks,” Dr. Kraft said.

While finding a lump can be unnerving, staying on top of your breast health is empowering.

At Hoag, we partner with our patients on their breast health journey no matter your age or life stage. Due for your mammogram? Schedule online or call 949-764-5573.

For a complete list of providers visit Find a Doctor | Hoag Hospital.

For a complete list of OB/GYNs visit Find an OB/GYN | Hoag Hospital.