How to Do a Self Breast Examination:
Self Breast exams should be done once a month. They are best performed about 10-14 days after the start of your menstrual cycle, when your breasts are least tender.
- In the Shower:
- Using the pads of your fingers, move your fingers around your entire breast in a circular pattern. Your fingers should from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. It is very important that any changes and lumps get evaluated by your healthcare provider.
- In Front of a Mirror
Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Then reinspect with your arms high overhead.
Look for any changes in the skin including contour and color. It's important to look for dimpling of the skin, swelling, or changes in the color or contour of the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles, and look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side. Some differences in the size of the two breasts can be normal, depending on the patient. If you have any concerns, make sure to consult your doctor.
- Lying Down
When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and put your right arm up and behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit.
Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.
(Information on exam technique from the National Breast Cancer Foundation).