Breast Self-Exam

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Breast Self-Exam

Women's Health
9103
Breast Self-Exam
Breast Self-Exam
Breast Self-Exam
htmBSE_Script_English
Flat version for BSE video.
356170
InteliHealth
2011-02-08
t
InteliHealth Medical Content
2013-12-02

Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Breast Self-Exam

Step One: Looking

The first step in performing a breast self-exam involves looking at your breasts in a mirror.

Looking allows you to notice any changes in your breasts.

A monthly breast examination will help you become familiar with what is normal for you and make it easier to spot when there is a change.

With your arms relaxed at your sides, look at the texture and color of your skin, including the size and shape of your breasts and nipples. Note any sores, dimpling, scaling or discharge. It is not unusual for one breast to be slightly larger than the other.

Now place your hands on your hips. Turn side to side and check the side angle of your breasts. Look for any unusual moles, rashes, skin irritations, dimples or flattening of your breasts.

Finally, bend slightly forward with your hands on your hips. In this position, inspect both breasts for any dimpling — which can be caused by a growing tumor tugging on the breast tissue or nipple.

Step Two: Feeling — Lying Down

The "circular" and "line" techniques are two ways to exam your breasts while lying down.

Choose the one most comfortable for you. To begin lay on your bed. Place a pillow or folded towel under your right shoulder. This will elevate your right side.

Rest your right hand behind your head. This spreads your breast evenly to allow for a more thorough examination. To perform the circular exam use the pads of your fingers to press in a circular motion on and around your breast.

Follow this motion in a clockwise pattern.

Begin pressing around the entire rim of your breast moving slowly until you reach the 12 o' clock position. Always keep your fingers on your skin as you move along.

Vary the amount of pressure you exert to feel different levels of the skin — first lightly, then medium pressure and finally deeper.

This will help you to feel the entire thickness of your breast. You are feeling for a lump or changes in your breast tissue.

Then move inward about an inch and repeat the same pattern.

Continue until you have felt the entire breast including your nipple. Check for a discharge by gently squeezing your nipple. Use the same technique to examine your armpit. You are feeling for both breast tissue and swollen lymph nodes.

Now switch sides and repeat.

If you are not sure that what you feel is normal, visit your doctor.

To perform the "line" technique start in the underarm area, moving the pads of your fingers downward little by little until they are below the breast. Then move your fingers slightly toward the middle, and slowly move back up. Go up and down until you cover the whole area from your neckline to your bra-line. Be sure to vary the amount of pressure to feel different levels of the skin. This will help you to feel the entire thickness of your breast.

You are feeling for a lump or changes in your breast tissue.

Now switch sides and repeat.

If you are not sure that what you feel is normal, visit your doctor.

Step Two: Feeling — Standing

The "circular" and "line" techniques are two ways to exam your breasts while standing.

Choose the one most comfortable for you.

To perform the circular exam raise your right arm above your head. Use the pads of your fingers to press in a circular motion on and around your breast.

Follow this motion in a clockwise pattern.

Begin pressing around the entire rim of your breast moving slowly until you reach the 12 o' clock position. Always keep your fingers on your skin as you move along.

Vary the amount of pressure to feel different levels of the skin — first lightly then medium pressure and finally deeply.

This will help you to feel the entire thickness of your breast. You are feeling for a lump or changes in your breast tissue.

Then move inward about an inch and repeat the same pattern. Continue until you have felt the entire breast including your nipple.

Check for a discharge by gently squeezing your nipple.

Use the same technique to examine your armpit. You are feeling for both breast tissue and swollen lymph nodes.

Now switch sides and repeat.

If you are not sure that what you feel is normal, visit your doctor. To perform the "line" technique start in the underarm area, moving the pads of your fingers downward little by little until they are below the breast. Then move your fingers slightly toward the middle, and slowly move back up. Go up and down until you cover the whole area from your neckline to your bra-line. Be sure to vary the amount of pressure to feel different levels of the skin. This will help you to feel the entire thickness of your breast.

You are feeling for a lump or changes in your breast tissue.

Now switch sides and repeat.

If you are not sure that what you feel is normal, visit your doctor.

 

 

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Last updated June 02, 2014


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