Performing a monthly breast self-exam (BSE) is your first line of defense against breast disease. Perform the exam at the same time each month and report any abnormalities to your physician. See the information below on how to properly perform the breast self-exam.
(Note: This self-exam is not a substitute for periodic exams by a qualified doctor. Report any lumps or changes to your doctor.)
Before a mirror
- Firmly press your hands down on your hips to tighten your chest muscles.
- Look carefully for any changes in the size, shape or contour of your breasts.
- Check for anything unusual - discharge, puckering, dimpling or changes in skin texture.
- Lie flat on your back and place your right hand behind your head and a pillow under your right shoulder.
- Use the finger pads of the 3 middle fingers on your left hand to make overlapping dime-sized circular motions to feel your right breast.
- Apply 3 different levels of pressure - light, medium and firm - with your finger pads to check the breast tissue.
- Use each pressure level to feel for lumps before moving to the next spot.
- Start by your armpit and move down to just below your breast.
- Use the same circular motions using an up-and-down pattern to cover the entire breast area.
- Repeat on your left breast using your right hand.
Sitting or standing
- Raise your arm slightly.
- Use the same circular motions with your finger pads to examine each underarm.