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Self Breast Exam

The Five Steps of a Self Breast Exam

The most important part of Breast Self-Examination, (BSE) is to get to know what is normal for your breasts. Therefore, in order to become familiar with your breasts you need to examine them thoroughly on a monthly basis, mid cycle, (10 to 15 days after the onset of your menstrual cycle). If you no longer menstruate, I recommend you perform BSE on the same day each month, for example, the 10th of the month. After several months you should be able to recognize what feels normal for you and determine if anything changes. If you do detect a change or if you are not sure please call our office for an appointment. If you are unsure about how to perform a breast self examination, we are happy to teach you.

    Step 1

Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.

Here's what you should look for:

  • Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and color.
  • Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion, swelling, dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin.
  • A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out).
  • Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling.
  • Bloody or dark colored discharge from the nipple

Step 2

Now, raise your arms to the ceiling and look for the same changes.

Step 3

While you are at the mirror, gently squeeze each nipple between your index finger and thumb and check for nipple discharge which could look clear, milky, yellow, dark or bloody. If you see dark fluid or blood please call for an appointment as this could be the early sign of a problem.

Step 4

Next, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few fingers of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together.
Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side—from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.
Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast. You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows, as if you were mowing a lawn. Be sure to feel all the breast tissue just beneath your skin with a soft touch and down deeper with a firmer touch. Begin examining each area with a very soft touch, and then increase pressure so that you can feel the deeper tissue, down to your rib cage.

Step 5

Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. Many women find that the easiest way to feel their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, so they like to do this step in the shower when soapy and wet. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements described in Step 4.

If you are unsure how to perform a proper Self Breast Exam, please call the office for an appointment and we will teach you how to do this with one on one training.

If you notice that something has changed or if you are not sure, please make an appointment to see Dr. Kaufman immediately.