Breast Self-Exam

Updated: DECEMBER 24, 2018

A breast self-exam is a manual exam that women can perform on themselves to check for unusual lumps, in an effort to detect breast cancer at an early stage.

More About Breast Self-Exam

A breast self-exam should be performed at regular intervals, usually monthly, to detect any differences in tissue. The exam should be performed at the same time every month to account for hormone fluctuations that occur around the time of a woman's menstrual cycle. There are five steps to a breast self-exam.

  1. Look at your breasts in the mirror while standing straight with your hands on your hips. Ensure that your breasts are the same size, shape and color as usual, and that there is no visible distortion or swelling. Note any dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin. Check for inverted nipples or any redness or rash

  2. Raise your arms above your head and look for the same changes listed in step 1.

  3. Look for any sign of fluid secreting from one or both nipples.

  4. Lie down on with your left arm resting behind your head and feel your entire left breast with your right hand. Using a firm touch, feel around your breast with the pads of your fingertips. You can move across your breast vertically, horizontally, or in a circular motion, as long as the pattern covers the entire breast area. Repeat with your right breast.

  5. Perform step 4 while standing up. Again, ensure that you check both breasts entirely. Report any unusual findings to your physician.


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