Some doctors advise women to check their breasts for any tumors (or lumps) whilst in the shower or looking at a mirror. Nevertheless breast self-examination (BSE) is not that simple to do nor is it very precise and can sometimes even cause alarm when one finds different types of lumps and especially when the woman is young.
BSE is best performed right after menstruation (for women not experiencing the menopause).
This is why it is useful to employ medical cancer detection and diagnosis techniques.
It goes without saying that if you notice an odd lump or one that has appeared recently, or if you experience discharge from the nipple it is important to see a doctor for a medical diagnosis. Most lumps are benign and the doctor can most likely quickly reassure you.
This is no reason however to delay seeing a doctor because if as is most often the case, the doctor finds no suspect lesions then the doctor can let you know this quickly. If the doctor does find a suspect lesion then the diagnosis can be made quickly and the prognosis is consequently improved.
Breast cancer diagnosis is performed via mammogram and it is often combined with a breast ultrasound.
Monthly BSE does not reduce breast cancer mortality rates.
In France and in other industrial countries there is no official recommendation for BSE. Even though BSE is less precise than a breast examination performed by an experienced doctor or more particularly by a breast specialist, many do encourage this practice for women in-between two formal detection tests.