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Monthly self-exams can lead to early breast cancer detection

Dr. Molly Sebastian with Virginia Hospital Center says many women are intimidated by breast self-exams. (SBG)

We want to help improve your life by keeping you informed about health matter, which affect you and your family.

Working in partnership with our parent company, Sinclair Broadcast Group, we believe it's a privilege and a responsibility to serve you, so we're kicking off Sinclair Care* by focusing on breast cancer awareness.

ARLINGTON, Va. (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - Julie Shackett, a travel fanatic always on the go, recently felt something unusual in her breast that stopped her in her tracks.

"It just felt like a hard mass. Just different," she said.

Just 36 years old, she'd never had a mammogram before, but she went in for one out of precaution.

"I just knew that something wasn't right. It hadn't been there before and it shouldn't be there," she said.

The lump turned out to be breast cancer.

Dr. Molly Sebastian with Virginia Hospital Center says many women are intimidated by breast self-exams.

"It's hard for women to know what's normal, what's abnormal. What's my normal density and what would something bad feel like?" said Dr. Sebastian.

She says the key is to do them once a month to establish what your normal"feels like so that something abnormal stands out to you.

Look for any change in appearance including dimpling of the skin, redness or fluid, and feel for changes like lumps, swelling or soreness. Dr. Sebastian said there should never be something as hard as a knuckle in your breast tissue.

And if you find something, visit your doctor right away.

"We are very effective at treating breast cancer when we catch it early, so that's the goal: early detection," said Dr. Sebastian.

Julie didn't perform regular self-exams before, but says she will now and encourages other women to do the same.

"It's time we pay attention to our bodies and know what's going on, and it really is important to make sure we are checking," she said.

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