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Living Well

The 5-step Monthly Self Breast Exam

Last updated: Oct 02, 2013

 

 

 

Step 1:

 

  • Stand before a mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips
  • Look at your breasts to become familiar with their size, shape, and color
  • Note and tell your doctor if you see changes in your breasts, including:
    • Dimpling, puckering, or bulging skin
    • A nipple that is inverted or has changed position
    • Redness, a rash, or swelling
    • Soreness

Step 2:

  • Raise your arms and look for changes in your breasts, including:
    • Dimpling, puckering, or bulging skin
    • A nipple that is inverted or has changed position
    • Redness, a rash, or swelling
    • Soreness

Step 3:

  • Note whether and tell your doctor if you have watery, milky, yellowish, or bloody fluid from either or both nipples

Step 4:

  • Lie down and use your right hand to feel your left breast; use your left hand to feel your right
  • Straighten and keep your first 3 fingers together Be sure your touch is firm, but smooth, with
    • Light pressure for the skin and tissue just beneath it
    • Medium pressure for tissue in the middle of the breast
    • Firm pressure for deep tissue at the back of the breast down to the ribcage
  • Use a circular motion about the size of a quarter to examine your entire breast
  • Be sure to feel the entire breast, from top to bottom and side to side
  • Use a pattern like that of mowing a lawn to ensure that you don’t miss any areas
  • Start at your collarbone and work to the top of your abdomen and from your armpit to your cleavage

Step 5:

  • Stand or sit to examine your breasts (examining your breasts in the shower with wet hands and breasts can make it easier to feel abnormalities)
  • Straighten and keep your first 3 fingers together
  • Be sure your touch is firm, but smooth, with:
    • Light pressure for the skin and tissue just beneath it
    • Medium pressure for tissue in the middle of the breast
    • Firm pressure for deep tissue at the back of the breast down to the ribcage
    • Use a circular motion about the size of a quarter to examine your entire breast
    • Be sure to feel the entire breast, from top to bottom and side to side
    • Use a pattern like that of mowing a lawn to ensure that you don’t miss any areas
    • Start at your collarbone and work to the top of your abdomen and from your armpit to your cleavage

Self breast exams can be effective in helping protect your breast and overall health, but they should be combined with clinical breast exams your doctor performs.


Summit Medical Group and the American Cancer Society recommend:

  • Self-breast exams beginning at age 20 to know the look, feel, and changes in your breasts
  • Clinical breast exams every 3 years between ages 20 and 30 years
  • Yearly mammograms beginning at age 40 and continuing them yearly if your health is good
  • Yearly clinical breast examinations from age 40 and older
  • Doctor-recommended breast screening such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as needed

Your health and medical history are unique. For this reason, your screening needs are likely to differ from those of other women. Ask your doctor whether you should have additional tests or if you should be screened at an earlier age.

For more information about screening to protect your breast health,
please call Summit Medical Group Breast Care Center at 908-273-4300,
and ask to speak with the department for which you need services.

Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM.

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