A breast self-exam for breast awareness is an inspection of your breasts that you do on your own. To help increase your breast awareness, you use your eyes and hands to observe the look and feel of your breasts.

If you notice new breast changes, discuss these with your doctor. Though most breast changes detected during a breast self-exam have benign causes, some changes may signal something serious, such as breast cancer.

Most medical organizations don't recommend routine breast self-exams as a part of breast cancer screening. That's because breast self-exams haven't been shown to be effective in detecting cancer or improving survival for women who have breast cancer.

Still, doctors believe there is value in women being familiar with their own breasts, so they understand what's normal and promptly report changes.

Jul. 17, 2014