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Breast Self Examination

1. Before a Mirror

Self Breast Exam: Raise Arms Inspect your breasts with arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms overhead. Look for changes in shape or contour of each breast, a swelling, dimpling of skin, or changes in the skin or nipple.


Self Breast Exam: Arms at Side Then, rest your palms on your hips and press down firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breast will not exactly match - few women’s breasts do. Regular inspection shows what is normal for you and will give you confidence in your examination.


2. Lying Down

Self Breast Exam: Lying Down Lie down. Flatten your right breast by placing a pillow under your right shoulder. Fingers flat, use the sensitive pads of the middle three fingers on your left hand. Feel for lumps or changes using a rubbing motion. Press firmly enough to feel the different breast tissues. Completely feel all of the breast and chest area from your collarbone to the base of a properly fitted bra; and from your breastbone to the underarm. Allow enough time for a complete exam.


Self Breast Exams: Patterns

The above diagrams show the three patterns preferred by women and their doctors:

  1. The vertical strip.
  2. The circular, clock, or oval pattern.
  3. The wedge.

Choose the method easiest for you and use the same pattern to feel every part of the breast tissue. After you have completely examined your right breast, then examine your left breast using the same method. Compare what you have felt with the other. Finally, squeeze the nipple of each breast gently between the thumb and index finger. Any discharge, clear or bloody, should be reported to your doctor.

3. In The Shower

Self Breast Exam: In The Shower Examine your breasts during bath or shower; hands glide easier over wet skin. Fingers flat, move gently over every part of each breast. Check for any lump, hard knot, or thickening.


If You Find Any Changes

If you find a lump, dimple, or discharge during BSE, it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible. Do not be frightened. Most breast lumps or changes are not cancer, but only your doctor can make the diagnosis.

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