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Monthly Self Breast Exam

Monthly Self Breast Exam

woman touching breast graphicStep 1
Lie down and place your right arm behind your head.

hand graphicStep 2
Use the finger pads (tips) of your three middle fingers on your left hand to feel for lumps in the right breast. Use overlapping dime-sized circular motions of the finger pads to feel the breast tissue.

hand on breast graphicStep 3
Use three different levels of pressure to feel all the breast tissue.

  • Light pressure to feel the tissue closest to the skin
  • Medium pressure to feel a little deeper
  • Firm pressure to feel the tissue closest to the chest and ribs
Use each pressure level to feel the breast tissue before moving on to the next spot.

hand on breast graphicStep 4
Move around the breast in an up and down pattern starting at an imaginary line drawn straight down your side from the underarm and moving across the breast to the middle of the chest bone (sternum or breastbone) like a snake. Be sure to check the entire breast area going down until you feel only ribs and up to the neck or collar bone (clavicle).

hand on breast graphicStep 5
Repeat the exam on your left breast, putting your left arm behind your head and using the finger pads of your right hand to do the exam.

woman examining breast in mirror graphicBefore You Get Dressed Again…
While standing in front of a mirror with your hands pressing firmly down on your hips, look at your breasts for any changes of size, shape, contour, dimpling, redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin.

woman examining breast graphicYou should also examine each underarm with your arm only slightly raised so you can easily feel in this area. Raising your arm straight up tightens the tissue in this area and makes it harder to examine.

The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass, but other signs of breast cancer include:

  • Swelling of all or part of the breast
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • Breast pain
  • Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
  • Redness, scaliness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • A nipple discharge other than breast milk

If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

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