In addition to maintaining a healthy body weight, following a balanced and healthy diet, and implementing an exercise program, all women need to practice early detection measures. Remember: breast cancer that is detected in its earliest stages is the most curable.
The current recommended guidelines for early detection include:
A monthly self breast exam, one week after the end of your period
A yearly breast exam by a physician, unless there are circumstances dictating that you be examined more frequently (i.e.: past bout with breast cancer or family history)
An annual mammogram starting at age 40 (unless there are reasons that you should begin screening sooner)
Equally essential, but less often discussed is the importance of developing a comfortable relationship with your breasts. Most women are relatively detached from their breasts. Women may spend a lot of time wishing their breasts were bigger, smaller, or perkier, but they seldom embrace their breasts as an important part of the body, and seldom love them just the way they are. Women need to lavish as much attention and care on their breasts as they do on their hair and complexion. Treat your breasts with respect. Get to know the terrain. Breasts are by their very nature lumpy and bumpy. Your task is to get familiar with your unique lumps and bumps, so you can learn to recognize anything unusual.