Last updated: Feb 29, 2016

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.

More on breast self-exams
A mammogram missed Hendy's lump.

• 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's doctors thought she was too young.

• 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 cancerous—but at first, doctors didn't take her seriously because she was so young.

Twilah stumbled on hers after a biopsy.

• 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.