Take Things Into Your Own Hands

Set an easy-to-rememberday aside to do a self-exam, such asthe first of every month. A how-to:Stand facing a full-length mirror,keeping your arms at your sides andthen raising them above your head.Scan your skin for anything suspicious,such as dimpling, puckering,redness, a rash, or swelling. Thenwhile you're in the shower, use thefingertips of one hand to examineyour breasts in a circular motion,starting at the outside perimeter andworking your way in toward the nipple.Probe the region next to thearmpit as well. If you feel a lump oranything out of the ordinary, waitthrough one menstrual cycle andcheck it again. If it's still there, callyour doctor to schedule an exam. Do a Background Check

Find out if you have a family historyof breast cancer (go back severalgenerations if you can), and sharethat information with your doctor."About 10 percent of breast cancer ishereditary, caused by alterations ingenes called BRCA1 and BRCA2,which is why it's extremely importantfor your doctor to know if you fallinto this high-risk category," saysMarisa Weiss, M.D. And don't forgetto check your father's side, an alltoo-common omission, according toa study at Virginia CommonwealthYou know you should have your ob-gyn check your breasts duringyour annual exam, but what else can you do to boost your breasthealth? Plenty. Start with these five strategies.University's Massey CancerCenter. Since half your genescome from Dad, a history ofbreast cancer in his family willequally influence your risk.Get Screened

The American Cancer Societyrecommends getting mammogramsevery year beginningat age 40 (women with a familyhistory should start 10 yearsearlier than the relative's age atdiagnosis). Need a nudge? Get afree e-mail reminder at at the Mayo Clinicin Rochester, Minnesota, recentlyreported that e-mail and phonereminders can increase thenumber of women who getthe test regularly.Go On Record

If you've had a digital mammogram,consider warehousing it atthe National Digital MedicalArchive ( The freeservice collects, manages, stores,and retrieves digital images andrelated health data, allowingdoctors easy access to yourmedical records.Walk, Run, Or Bike Your Way To a Cure

Charitable events not only allow you toraise money for a cause, but alsohelp you bond with others, learnmore about the disease, andbuild some cancer-preventingexercise into your routine. Fourto check out: The AmericanCancer Society's Making StridesAgainst Breast Cancer (, the AvonWalk for Breast Cancer (, the RevlonRun/Walk for Women (, and the Susan G.Komen Race for the Cure( Prefer Pilates?Read "A Better Reason to FirmYour Belly" (or for informationon classes around thecountry that raise money forbreast-cancer research.