Regular breast self-examinations can help you detect breast cancer early, and perhaps even save your life. Here’s what to do.

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While mammograms can help detect breast cancer ― and women over 40 should do this regularly ― another simple way you can detect any breast diseases is by doing a simple Breast Self-Exam (BSE).

Checking your own breasts in a systematic manner can help you look out for any tumours, cysts or other abnormalities, notes Dr Tan Yia Swam, who specialises in breast surgery at Thomson Breast Centre. They also enable you to be familiar with your breasts, so you’ll know if there are any changes in the texture. Nipple discharge, when not breastfeeding, is another sign that should be further checked by a doctor.

Don’t do the BSE during your period, or immediately before, Dr Tan advises. This is because your breasts may feel different during this time compared to the rest of the month, since hormonal changes can make tissue feel lumpier and more tender.

Hormonal changes can make tissue feel lumpier and more tender.

You should spend at least five minutes examining each breast, otherwise you’re probably missing something. If you find anything abnormal, schedule an appointment with your doctor, but don’t panic, as eight out of 10 lumps aren’t cancerous, Dr Tan assures.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is still advisable to do the check, but do note that during this time, your breasts are undergoing many changes and may feel tender or lumpy. If you find a lump that doesn’t move or go away, check with your doctor.

Click for our step-by-step on what you need to do during this crucial check.

Infographic: Lim Jae-Lynn

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Photo: iStock

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