CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Research shows 40 percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump.
That is why for years, women have been encouraged to perform a self breast exam at least once a month.
"It did allow many women to come forward when they had a concern and were able to get a diagnosis early," Dr. Carlos Robles said, an oncologist at Saint Francis Medical Center.
However, he says it's now considered a controversial topic.
"We've seen some of the self-breast examination techniques have been hard on anxiety and false positive diagnosis," Robles said.
Instead, Robles said it is more important to know your body.
"There was clear techniques in the past of how it was recommended, laying down and up and a circular motion, but at this point rather than endorse a breast self examination, I would say know your body, know how it feels, know how it looks, and be able to tell when something is right or wrong," Robles said.
In other words, don't get caught up in how you should perform a self breast exam.
"It doesn't mean a woman can't do it. I think the most important thing is, and this is the advice of all the cancer groups is for a woman to know their body," Robles said. "... and when there is a different finding, that's when it's time to go and seek help."
Robles said this is what you should be looking for:
"When you see changes in the skin color or a rash on the breast is always disturbing, changes in the skin form, of course a mass, bleeding or secretions from the nipple or anything that is not right, new, different, or asymmetric... just be familiar with our body, know our body because we know best."
Just as important: getting a mammogram. Those screenings can detect tumors before they can be felt.