Set an easy-to-remember day aside to do a self-exam, such as the first of every month. A how-to: Stand facing a full-length mirror, keeping your arms at your sides and then raising them above your head. Scan your skin for anything suspicious, such as dimpling, puckering, redness, a rash, or swelling. Then while you're in the shower, use the fingertips of one hand to examine your breasts in a circular motion, starting at the outside perimeter and working your way in toward the nipple. Probe the region next to the armpit as well. If you feel a lump or anything out of the ordinary, wait through one menstrual cycle and check it again. If it's still there, call your doctor to schedule an exam. Do a Background Check
Find out if you have a family history of breast cancer (go back several generations if you can), and share that information with your doctor. "About 10 percent of breast cancer is hereditary, caused by alterations in genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2, which is why it's extremely important for your doctor to know if you fall into this high-risk category," says Marisa Weiss, M.D. And don't forget to check your father's side, an alltoo- common omission, according to a study at Virginia Commonwealth You know you should have your ob-gyn check your breasts during your annual exam, but what else can you do to boost your breast health? Plenty. Start with these five strategies. University's Massey Cancer Center. Since half your genes come from Dad, a history of breast cancer in his family will equally influence your risk. Get Screened
The American Cancer Society recommends getting mammograms every year beginning at age 40 (women with a family history should start 10 years earlier than the relative's age at diagnosis). Need a nudge? Get a free e-mail reminder at cancer.org/mammogramreminder. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, recently reported that e-mail and phone reminders can increase the number of women who get the test regularly. Go On Record
If you've had a digital mammogram, consider warehousing it at the National Digital Medical Archive (ndma.us). The free service collects, manages, stores, and retrieves digital images and related health data, allowing doctors easy access to your medical records. Walk, Run, Or Bike Your Way To a Cure
Charitable events not only allow you to raise money for a cause, but also help you bond with others, learn more about the disease, and build some cancer-preventing exercise into your routine. Four to check out: The American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer (cancer.org/stridesonline), the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer (walk.avonfoundation.org), the Revlon Run/Walk for Women (revlonrunwalk.com), and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure (komen.org). Prefer Pilates? Read "A Better Reason to Firm Your Belly" (or visit pilatesforpink.com) for information on classes around the country that raise money for breast-cancer research.