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Your Healthy Breast To-Do List

Take Things Into Your Own Hands

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
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 ( 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 (, the Avon
Walk for Breast Cancer (, the Revlon
Run/Walk for Women (, and the Susan G.
Komen Race for the Cure
( Prefer Pilates?
Read "A Better Reason to Firm
Your Belly"
(or visit for information
on classes around the
country that raise money for
breast-cancer research.


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