For years, health professionals advised women to perform tedious, multi-step breast self-exams on a monthly basis. Then, research emerged suggesting that these examinations did little to prevent breast cancer—yet statistics show that 40 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer found the lump themselves.

Almost overnight, the breast self-exams we had come to know and dread were replaced with “breast self-awareness”. While the internet buzzed with breast self-awareness memes, many of us were left wondering exactly what it means…and if breast self-exams are still necessary.

While the term sounds abstract, even a little new-agey, it’s actually a straight-forward process.

  1. Know your risk. Does a first-degree relative have breast cancer? If so, you have a higher risk of developing the disease, and should consult with your doctor.
  2. Know your normal. You won’t know if something is wrong, until you know what’s right. So, go ahead, grab your boobs, and get to know em’!
  3. Know the signs and symptoms. If something feels strange, if you notice a bump, lump, discharge, or just anything “off” about your breasts, then schedule an appointment with your doctor.
  4. Know the risk factors. Smoking, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, excessive alcohol intake…all things to avoid if you want to live a long, healthy life.
  5. Do breast self-exams, sometimes. Just when you thought you were off the hook! According to the experts at Bergen Imaging Center, breast self-awareness should not replace self-exams. While it is not necessary to perform them on a monthly basis, we believe that they are an integral aspect of breast self-awareness.