Even though there's some doubt that women who do regular monthly breast self-exams (BSE) live longer as a group, some women do find a lump that way.
Hendy Dayton's malignant lump wasn't picked up by a mammogram, but her fingertips couldn't miss it. "It felt like a Contac cold pill under my breast," recalls the 48-year-old San Franciscan.
Elissa Thorner, now a 26-year-old research scientist in Baltimore, found a lump in her breast five years ago that turned out to be cancerousbut at first, doctors didn't take her seriously because she was so young.
Twilah Richardson, 51, of Allentown, Pa., felt a lump in her left breast about a month after her 50th birthday. "I honestly didn't think they would tell me I had breast cancer. I had an earlier biopsy at Christmas and it came back negative," she recalls.