First, stand, looking at your breasts in a mirror. Next, lie down (when lying down, breast tissue spreads out, making it thinner and easier to feel). Raise your right arm above your head. Use the three middle fingers of your left hand to feel all over your right breast, beginning at the armpit. Repeat with your other breast. Be sure to check the entire breast area.
Found a lump? Don’t panic. Many women find lumps or changes in their breasts, since some of these are normal changes that occur at various points in their menstrual cycles.
Contact your doctor if: You notice a hard lump or knot near your underarm; a nipple that is pushed in (inverted) instead of sticking out; redness, swelling or pain; itching, scales, sores or rashes; bloody nipple discharge.
Be sure the check all over your body for these – that means your scalp, face, neck, hands (even your nails), elbows, arms, underarms, chest, torso, under your breasts, back of your neck, shoulders, legs, derriere and feet (even the soles). Look for changes on your skin, such as a growth or a sore that won’t heal; small lumps that are smooth, shiny and waxy, or red; flat red spots that are rough or scaly.
Contact your doctor if: You have any moles or spots that are changing, growing or bleeding. Skin cancer can take 20 years or more to develop. Many forms grow slowly, but some melanomas may grow quickly. If found in the early stages it’s usually treatable.
An extra few extra centimeters around your waist can be more cause for concern than just your looks. Abdominal fat increases your chances of health problems such as type 2 diabetes or hypertension, and in some cases may also lead to stroke and other cardiovascular issues. The easiest way to find out your waist size is by taking a tape measure and measuring the circumference of your waist.
Contact your doctor if: You’re a man and your waist measures more than 102cm, or you’re a woman and your waist measures more than 88cm – you have a significantly increased chance of developing life-threatening health problems and should look into changing your lifestyle in order to reduce your abdominal fat. (And no, liposuction doesn’t count.)
These are small "tags" of skin which may have a peduncle (stalk) – they look like a small piece of soft, hanging skin. They can appear on any part of your body, but most typically exist in areas where skin may rub against skin (collagen and blood vessels become trapped inside thicker bits of skin), such as the your eyelids, armpits, under breasts, groin, upper chest and neck. Skin tags are very common and generally occur after midlife.
Contact your doctor if: You notice a skin tag growing or becoming irritated – this suggests it could be cancerous. Or if you feel your tags are unsightly and would like to have them removed.
Unless you’ve been overdosing on self-tanning creams, small areas of rough, dark skin could mean you have diabetes. Excess insulin in your bloodstream can cause skin cells to multiply abnormally fast, leading to a buildup of tissue and melanin, which makes the skin look darker and feel thicker. It most commonly occurs in the armpits, neck, or groin.
Contact your doctor if: You notice any dark patches of skin. Your doctor will be able to perform a simple blood test to form a diagnosis.
If you have any small, soft lumps that look white or waxy on your eyelids, knees or elbows, it could mean you have high cholesterol. By the time they appear, your cholesterol levels are probably sky high, which means you’re at serious risk of developing heart disease.
Contact your doctor if: You notice these lumps at any time. Ask about lifestyle changes or prescription drugs that can get your cholesterol levels down – reducing your numbers by just 10 percent can slash your risk by as much as a third.
Thick, dark hair…
… in a diamond shape on your belly. Dense, coarse hair that extends up toward your belly button (rather than growing downward from the top of the pubic bone) could be a sign of polycystic ovarian syndrome. Caused by overproduction of androgens (hormones), the condition can lead to irregular or heavy periods, weight gain, acne and thick, dark hair on the belly, face, chest and back.
Contact your doctor if: You have any of the above symptoms. They might prescribe birth control pills to get your hormones back in check.