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How To Examine Breast Cancer

How Do You Perform A Breast Self

Learn how to examine your breast for cancer the proper way

Performing a self-exam can help you understand what is normal for you so you can more easily detect when something is out of the ordinary. To perform a breast self-exam, follow these steps:

Step 1: Observe

The first part is visual examination, or to simply observe. Stand shirtless in front of the mirror and check the breast for dimpling, puckering, discoloration, and any other symptoms or noticeable changes. Inspect your breasts while you are standing straight, with arms raised above your head, and afterward, with your hands on your hips. Turn from side to side and bend forward in each position to check thoroughly.

Step 2: Feel for lumps with your three middle fingers

After observation, feel for changes using the finger pads of the three middle fingers. Use the opposite hand from the breast you are examining this means feeling the right breast with your left hand, and vice versa. Check for lumps and thickening in each breast, including the area below the collarbone and under the armpit.

Step 3: Feel for lumps with an up-and-down motion

Then, support a breast with one hand and use the other hand to feel for any lumps using an up-and-down motion. Cover the entire breast area.

Step 4: Repeat up-and-down motion for both breasts

Repeat the process for the other breast.

Step 5: Lie down and feel for lumps with circular or up-and-down motions

Having larger breasts may make it take longer to examine the breast, but the techniques and concept are the same, says Abe.

The Value Of Clinical Breast Exams

Clinical Breast exams are an important part of early detection. Although most lumps are discovered through breast self-exams, an experienced professional may notice a suspicious place that fails to register as a warning in the patients mind.

Materials on this page are courtesy of National Cancer Institute

Breast Cancer Screening Methods And Myths Webinar

Watch our breast cancer doctors at the Margie Petersen Breast Center at Providence Saint Johns, discuss the different types of breast cancer screening methods including, breast exams, mammography, ultrasounds, MRI, and biopsy, as well as share the facts for all the common breast cancer myths youve heard.

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How To Do A Breast Self Exam

This article was co-authored by Carrie Noriega, MD. Dr. Noriega is a Board Certified Obstetrician & Gynecologist and medical writer in Colorado. She specializes in womens health, rheumatology, pulmonology, infectious disease, and gastroenterology. She received her MD from the Creighton School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska and completed her residency at the University of Missouri – Kansas City in 2005.There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 203,373 times.

Breast self-exams are an optional screening tool to check for early signs of breast cancer. Performing these exams monthly can help you familiarize yourself with the look and feel of your breasts so that you can more easily detect changes.XResearch source Though breast self-exams were once thought to be essential to screening for breast cancer, they are now considered a helpful, optional tool.

In The Shower Or Bath


It may be easier to check your breasts while youre in the shower or bath, as your hands are wet. This makes it easier to slide your hand over your breasts.

An easy way to check your breasts is to:

  • Raise one arm above your head.
  • With the flat of your fingers press into your breast, feeling for any changes, softly at first and then more firmly.
  • Check the entire breast area, from your collarbone to under your breast, and from the side of your breast up into your armpit. A good way to do this is to move your hands over your breasts, in an up and down or in a circular motion. This is an easy way to make sure youve checked the whole area.
  • Repeat on the other breast
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    How To Perform A Breast Cancer Self

    1. Simply look at your breasts in the mirror. Look from different angles, with your arms down and then raised.

    What you should see:

    • Breasts that are smooth and dont show any visible signs of distortion
    • The usual size, shape and color of your breasts

    Signs to look out for:

    • Changes in skin texture, such as dimpling, puckering or bulging
    • Changes in the position of either nipple
    • Any redness, splotches or other signs of a rash
    • Abnormal swelling
    • Any signs of fluid coming from either nipple

    2. Feel your breasts while lying down, and then again while standing up. Using the pads of your first two or three fingers, make circular motions about the size of a quarter along the entire surface of your breasts and near your armpit. Use light, medium and firm pressure to feel the different layers of tissue.

    What you should feel:

    • The usual consistency of your breasts
    • Whatever is normal in the different regions of your breasts

    Signs to look out for:

    • Lumps or hard masses in your breast tissue
    • Thickening or fullness that feels different than the surrounding tissue
    • Unusual warmth
    • A nipple that has become inverted

    Self-breast exams arent a surefire way to detect breast cancer only medical testing, such as mammograms, can do that but they can help you become more familiar with your breasts and, as such, more aware of any changes.

    When Should You Do Your Diy Breast Self

    A breast self-examination should be done once every month.

    The best time to examine your breasts is 7 to 10 days after the start of your period, when your breast are least tender and least swollen.

    If you no longer have periods, then choose a date that is easy to remember.

    It is best done while lying down on the bed. You can also check while standing in the shower or in front of the mirror.

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    Symptoms To Look Out For

    Some people with breast cancer experience no symptoms. In some cases, however, changes may start to occur from an early stage. People should speak with a doctor about their screening plan if they have any concerns.

    It is also worth noting that not all breast lumps are breast cancer, and not every case of breast cancer involves a lump. For these reasons, people should attend regular screening as a doctor recommends.

    Breast cancer can cause changes in the lymph nodes in the early stages.

    To check the lymph nodes, look for:

    • a lump, swelling, or thickening around the underarm
    • a lump or swelling in the collarbone area
    • a thickening of the skin in the armpit

    Lymph node involvement can also result in a rash on the breast in people with inflammatory breast cancer.

    A person should contact a doctor about these or any other unexplained changes, especially if they only seem to affect one breast.

    Diagnosis Of Benign Breast Conditions

    Breast Cancer: How to do a Breast Self Exam

    The tests and procedures used to diagnose a benign breast condition are often the same as those used to diagnose breast cancer. The goals of diagnosis are to:

    • make sure that the growth or other change detected is really benign
    • determine whether the condition is associated with any increase in cancer risk

    Procedures could include:

    Your testing plan will depend on your symptoms and what type of benign breast condition is suspected. Your doctor might not be able to tell you much until the test results come back. Waiting is hard, but remember that benign conditions are more common than breast cancer.

    In most cases, todays imaging techniques are advanced enough to tell the difference between a benign breast condition and cancer, notes Alan Stolier, M.D., a surgical breast oncologist with St. Charles Surgical Hospital and the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery in New Orleans. If anything about the imaging is suspicious, we will go a step further with biopsy, he says. If we dont recommend anything else be done, we have a high level of confidence it is benign.

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    Check Yourself For Male Breast Cancer

    How to Check Yourself for Male Breast Cancer Male Breast Self-Exam

    1. Check each breast one at a time.

    2. Use your right hand fingers to check

    your left breast, and your left hand

    fingers to check your right breast.

    3. With your fingers flat against the

    breast press firmly in small, clockwise circles.

    4. Start at the outermost top edge of your breast

    and spiral towards the nipple.

    5. Feel for hard lumps or bumps in your breast.

    6. Be certain to cover all parts of your breast.

    7. Gently squeeze both nipples and look for any discharge.

    8. Look carefully for changes in the size, shape,

    and contour of each breast, e.g., puckering,

    dimpling, or changes in skin texture.When is the best time to perform the MBSE?

    During or right after a warm shower or bath

    Warm, soapy water relaxes and smoothes the skin,

    making the MBSE easier to perform

    Remember to do the MBSE once a month

    What are the symptoms?

    A hard, painless lump in the breast tissue

    Pain in the breast

    Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin

    Discharge from the nipple

    However, remember that most breast lumps in men are due to gynecomastia and not cancer.


    1. Are you between the ages of 10 and 25 and have swelling under the nipple? Hormone changes of adolescence may bring about GYNECOMASTIA, benign swelling of the male breast. Gynecomastia is usually benign and lasts for a few months. See your doctor if youre concerned or if the mass keeps growing.

    The Month Of October Is Observed As Breast Cancer Awareness Month This Month

    Breast cancer awareness month: Breast self-examination can help in early detection

    Breast self-examination is the examination of ones own breast by the person. Overall, 40% of women detect their lumps themselves. Regular self-examination is likely to detect breast lumps early. This may enable women to report to doctors with earlier stage of disease. There is no firm guideline for the exact age for starting BSE. Women should preferably start BSE at the age of 20 years, but can start earlier if desired.

    BSE should be done once a month. It should preferably 2-3 days after the end of monthy period. It is best to keep the same day post period for examination which means if you are doing on the 3rd day after completion of periods, keep it as the 3rd day post periods for all your future monthly examinations. The firmness of breast changes in relation of the menstrual cycle. For post-menopausal females, any date of the month can be chosen, repeated every month.

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    Know What Is Normal For You

    Its important to know what is normal for you. Your breasts will go through many normal changes during your life. For example, they are affected by changes in your hormones during your menstrual cycle, pregnancy and breast-feeding and menopause.

    • Your menstrual cycle: Each month, when you are having periods, your breasts often change. They can become bigger, tender and lumpy usually before a period starts and return to normal once the period is over. Some women, however, may have tender, lumpy breasts throughout their cycle.
    • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: The changes that occur during your menstrual cycle continue during pregnancy. While breast-feeding, your breasts may be very enlarged, firm and tender this is normal at this time. However, you should continue to check your breasts and discuss any unusual changes with your GP.
    • Menopause: After the menopause your breasts will feel softer and they may get bigger or smaller. If there is a change in only one breast, you should discuss this with your doctor. HRT hormone replacement therapy may cause your breasts to feel firmer and quite tender.

    Is There A Particular Time Of The Month I Should Do Breast Self

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    Women should do a breast self-exam once a month, every month. Women who are still menstruating should perform a breast self-exam after their period. Women who have stopped menstruating and those who have very irregular periods can pick a day each month. Choose a day that is consistent and easy to remember, like the first day of the month, the last day of the month or your favorite number.

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    What Are The Stages Of Breast Cancer

    There are 5 stages of breast cancer:Stage 0: Non-invasive breast cancer no evidence whether the cancer is spreading in neighboring regionsStage 1 4: Varying stages of invasive cancer which starts spreading to nearby tissuesDoctors use various sophisticated techniques to determine which stage cancer you have.

    Why Do A Bse

    Early detection increases the survival rate for breast cancer. When coupled with regular screening like mammogram & ultrasound, BSE helps to detect abnormal breast lumps early so that breast cancers can be detected early and appropriate treatment can be given. Remember to never substitute your regular mammograms with BSE.

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    Breast Changes To Look Out For

    See a GP if you notice any of the following changes:

    • a change in the size, outline or shape of your breast
    • a change in the look or feel of the skin on your breast, such as puckering or dimpling, a rash or redness
    • a new lump, swelling, thickening or bumpy area in one breast or armpit that was not there before

    What Should I Do If I Find A Lump

    How to do a breast cancer self-examination – BBC News

    Donât panic. It could be many things other than cancer. But do check in with your doctorâs office if you notice any new breast changes, such as:

    • An area that is different from any other area on either breast
    • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm that lasts through your menstrual cycle
    • A change in the size, shape, or contour of the breast
    • A mass or lump
    • A marble-like area under the skin
    • A change in the feel or appearance of the skin on the breast or nipple
    • Bloody or clear fluid discharge from the nipples
    • Redness of the skin on the breast or nipple

    Show Sources

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    Hows A Breast Exam Done

    During a breast exam, your doctor will check your breasts for any possible signs of breast cancer or other breast problems. Theyll also talk with you about your risks for breast cancer and what you can do to help prevent it.

    You’ll take off any clothing that covers your breasts. You may get a gown or sheet to cover yourself with before the exam starts. Your doctor or nurse will look at both of your breasts to see the shape, size, and texture of your skin. Theyll feel your breasts with the tips of their fingers to check if there are any lumps or if something else doesnt feel normal. Theyll start with one breast and then do the other, including both nipples, and also check your armpits.

    Why Should I Do Breast Self

    Monthly breast self-exams can help you detect changes that may be signs of infection or breast cancer . When breast cancer is detected early, the chances for survival are much better.

    Self-exams are important for breast health. But they should not replace exams and screening tests recommended by doctors. You should still see your primary care provider and/or gynecologist regularly.

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    Benign Breast Conditions Linked To A Slight Increase In Breast Cancer Risk

    Some benign breast conditions are associated with a slight increase in the risk of developing breast cancer. All of these conditions involve an overgrowth of breast cells that closely resemble normal, healthy cells. The cells look fairly typical and are not abnormal .

    The increase in cancer risk is so slight that it generally doesnt change recommendations about screening practices or follow-up. Your doctor may encourage you to pay closer attention to getting annual mammograms and adopting healthy behaviors that lower risk, such as exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting alcohol. However, your breast cancer risk is still considered to be similar to that of women at average risk.

    In addition, your individual situation will be taken into account. You and your doctor can discuss your benign diagnosis in relation to any other well-defined risk factors you may have, such as family history or personal medical history. You can then decide if you need a different follow-up plan.

    The following benign conditions are linked to a slight increase in cancer risk. Most would be diagnosed after youve had a biopsy of a suspicious area that showed up on an imaging study. Your doctor often will classify the condition based on the appearance of breast tissue under a microscope.

    Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

    How to Perform a Breast Self

    Let us glance through the symptoms of breast cancer now! We have already discussed these symptoms in detail in our previous article.

    • Lumps Not every lump is an indication of breast cancer. However, check and feel if there are any lumps. If you find any lump, contact your doctor.
    • Pain Pain in breast along with other symptoms is a symptom of breast cancer. Only the pain in the breast does not mean the possibility of breast cancer but still, it is advised to see the doctor.
    • Some sort of change in size & shape Observe if there is any change in the size and shape of your breast. One breast size might be bigger than the other or it might be lower in comparison to the other.
    • Change in the skin of breast Dimpled or cracked breast skin may be a sign of breast cancer
    • Change in color If you see any change of color in your breast, you should see the doctor.
    • Change in nipples Any abnormality in nipples, like an inverted nipple, some sort of discharge from the nipple, accumulation of skin crusts or rashes around nipples, can be a sign of breast cancer.

    In a nutshell, if you see anything unusual in your breasts, you should consult the doctor and should opt for mammography. A mammography is a screening tool which is quite helpful and reliable for detecting any breast cancer possibility.

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