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It has become a common practice with women today to examine the breast for lumps or other irregularities. Regardless of your age, all women should examine their breasts at least once a month. In most cases lumps and some irregularities are not a sure sign of malignancy but in every case early detection and prompt medical attention are advisable.

In many cases lumps in the breast, whether painful or not, are fibrocystic. The normal breast will vary in density and texture. Prior to menopause most women tend to have more tissue which can make the breast feel firm or lumpy and less fat in their breast. In later years more fat tends to form. From time to time women develop fluid filled cysts or fibrous areas in the breast which can become tender right before their monthly cycle. This condition, no matter how uncomfortable, is not a disease. Nor does it increase your risk of breast cancer. Normal lumps can be distinguished from cancerous ones because they tend to move freely in the breast and change with the menstrual cycle. Fibrocystic breast tend to respond well to vitamin E taken in 400 IU doses twice a day, as well as 600 milligrams daily of magnesium and 100 milligrams of vitamin B6 twice daily. Try to eliminate caffeine from your diet and wear a good support bra when your breasts are tender.

When examining your breasts the best time is the week following your period if you have not reached menopause. Begin by looking in the mirror at each of your breasts and carefully checking for any visible lumps, depressions or differences in texture. Give the nipples of your breast special attention as you look for dimpling or any change in appearance. Are they symmetrical or does one seem to pull off to one side? Raise both arms above your head. Check for any swelling or dimpling of the skin.

The most important aspect of a breast examination is feeling or palpating your breast. Lying on your back on a flat surface, place a pillow under your right shoulder. Then place your right hand behind your head and using the fingers of your left hand, press your right breast gently in a circular motion. Work from the outside finishing your examine to include the nipple. Be sure to feel the entire breast all the way around and squeeze the nipple gently to check for any discharge. Change sides and place your left shoulder on the pillow with your left hand behind your head. Then examine the left breast with your right hand.

It is always wise to contact your doctor if you find a new lump in your breast. Especially if you are not prone to lumpy breasts. When you discover a lump has grown larger, harder or does not diminish after your period ends your doctor should check it. Anytime you have any type of discharge from either nipple when you are not nursing or have severe breast pain this should be taken as a sign to see your doctor.