Breast Cancer Awareness Month

4 woman embracing and smiling in pink Breast Cancer awareness shirts with pink ribbon
Written by Risa Schulman
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3 minutes

Breast cancer month comes every October—do you know what to look for in a breast cancer self-check? Behind skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women. In fact, 1 in 3 new cancer cases in women is breast cancer. It all sounds a little frightening, it’s true, but because of the increased awareness around breast cancer and its symptoms, early detection is much more common these days than it used to be. That’s what Breast Cancer Month is all about!

Related: What is the Number 1 Killer of Women?

Who is at Risk for Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer doesn’t only affect women, as much as it might seem that way. However, while men can also have breast cancer, women are much more likely to develop it. According to the National Cancer Institute, about 1 in 8 women today will be diagnosed with breast cancer within their lifetime. Men, on the other hand, are about 70-100 times less likely to develop breast cancer.

It’s important to know that, while everyone may be at risk of developing breast cancer, early detection makes for a much higher survival rate. As with some other cancers, the risk factor increases if breast cancer runs in your family.

What are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?

So what are the symptoms of breast cancer? Breast cancer can show up differently for different people–sometimes without any symptoms at all.

Here are a few common symptoms of breast cancer, according to the CDC:

  • Pain anywhere in the breast, including the nipple area
  • The skin around your nipple is red or flaky
  • A lump has developed in your breast or armpit
  • Blood or other unexpected discharge from the nipple
  • Swelling or deformity of the breast

Making sure to stay on top of your self-assessments for breast cancer is one easy way to keep breast cancer at bay–or at least catch it early on.

What is a Breast Self-Exam for Breast Cancer?

One of the best tools for catching breast cancer in its early stages is to regularly conduct breast self-exams. Breast self-exams are an easy way to screen yourself for any obvious breast cancer symptoms. While they cannot diagnose breast cancer, they can be helpful in determining when to see a doctor about a formal breast cancer screening.

Here’s how to conduct a breast self-exam, according to

  1. Remove your shirt and stand in front of a mirror with your chest bare and your hands on your hips. Look at your breasts, keeping an eye out for any irregularities in shape, size, or color.
  2. Raise your arms above your head and look for the same things, noting any odd changes. Keep an eye out for any unexpected secretions from your nipples.
  3. Next, lie down on your back, and keeping your first three fingers flat and together, press down on your breasts in a circular motion about the diameter of a quarter. Feel the entire area of your breasts in this way, noting any irregular pain, stiffness, or lumps you feel.
  4. Sit up or stand and go back over your entire breasts, feeling for any irregular pain, stiffness, or lumps.

You should conduct a breast self-exam once a month. Should you find any irregularities or lumps, or if you notice discharge or abnormal pain, call your doctor and set up an appointment.

Read more: A Guide to Health Screenings at Every Age

During this Breast Cancer month, take a moment to assess your own risks of breast cancer, and encourage your friends to do the same. And remember to be proactive when it comes to your health. At Kaneka, we want to provide you with useful information and tips to support your healthy lifestyle. For more tips on how to stay heart-healthy, join our Healthy Heart Challenge today!

Written by:

Risa Schulman


Risa Schulman, Ph.D. has been helping companies and people build wellness for 25 years.

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