Self-Breast Exams

woman giving herself a self breast exam

We know our bodies best and are often the first ones to realize its changes. We can increase the chances of detecting an infection, disease or cancer in the breasts early on by doing self-breast examinations. Bring any changes you notice to the attention of your provider.

1. Start by looking. Get in front a mirror and see

  • Does the skin on your breasts dimple or pucker?
  • Are your nipples being pulled in, rather than poking out?
  • Is there any discharge coming from your nipples?
  • Do you have redness, rashes, or sores?

2. Now, strike some poses a look for the same things

  • Arms raised above your head
  • Hand on your hips and flex your chest

3. Next is feeling, either laying down or in the shower

  • Use the inside of your middle three fingers.
  • Imagine your breast is a pie, start at the center and feel each “slice” (going up to the collar bone and into the armpit) working in a circle.
  • Start by pressing lightly, then use a firmer pressure to feel deeper into your breast tissue for each “slice”.

What to look for?

  • Do you have hard lumps by your armpits?
  • Does your skin or tissue feel noticeably thicker in any area?
  • Are there any new lumps or nipple discharge emerging?

NOT all lumps and bumps are problematic, so DON’T panic at what you might find. Our bodies are ever changing and sometimes menstruation cycles will affect the way your breasts feel. Bring any changes to your health care provider so the appropriate tests can be done if need be.

How often should I do self-breast examinations? Once a month. If you get a regular period, try to examine yourself right after your period has finished, otherwise just pick a date every month. It only takes a few minutes, and can be lifesaving.

The only true way to detect breast cancer and other diseases of the breast is with further testing, such as a mammogram. It is so important for women over 40 to get routine screening for breast cancer. Remember that a self-breast exam is NEVER a substitute for a mammogram, however, looking for all the warning signs during your home breast exam might trigger you to seek an appointment sooner.

if you notice any changes during your self-breast examination, make an appointment with one of our Women’s Health providers at 507-646-1478.