Recommendations for breast self-exams, however, are mixed. Many medical organizations, such as the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen Foundation, and U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, don't recommend the practice as a screening tool, as studies have found that it isn't as effective as a mammogram or other tests. Additionally, the ACS states, "Most often when breast cancer is detected because of symptoms (such as a lump), a woman discovers the symptom during usual activities such as bathing or dressing." On the other hand, the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Johns Hopkins Medicine still recommend a monthly self-exam.
But don't be confused by the differing opinions. The main takeaway is that although it's not universally recommended as a screening tool, you should be familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can tell your doctor about any changes you experience. The ACS also says that although it doesn't recommend regular exams as part of the routine screening schedule, it doesn't mean that they shouldn't be done. Your doctor might still do it, or you might feel more comfortable performing monthly checks to monitor your body. "It's important to understand that there is very little evidence that doing these exams routinely is helpful for women at average risk of breast cancer," the ACS states.
Bottom line? Make sure you're monitoring, feeling, and observing your breasts on the regular so you are aware of any lumps or irregularities.