Regular breast self-exams are an important part of breast cancer awareness and early detection. While they are not a substitute for regular mammograms and clinical breast exams by healthcare professionals, self-exams can help you become familiar with your breasts and identify any changes. Here’s how to perform a breast self-exam:
- Perform the exam at the same time each month, preferably a few days after your period ends when your breasts are less likely to be tender or swollen
- Stand in front of a mirror: Inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides and then with your arms raised overhead. Look for any changes in size, shape, or skin texture. Check for dimpling, puckering, or changes in the appearance of your nipples.
- Examine your breasts in different positions: There are a few different methods you can use to examine your breast.
- Lying down: Lie flat on your back with a pillow under your right shoulder. Place your right arm behind your head and use your left hand to examine your right breast. Use the pads of your three middle fingers to make small, circular motions. Start at the outside of your breast and move toward the nipple, covering the entire breast. Repeat on the left side.
- In the shower: Use soapy hands and fingers to examine your breasts. The slippery surface can make it easier to feel any changes.
- Standing: Stand with your arm raised and examine your breast using the same circular motion described above.
While examining your breasts, use varying levels of pressure to feel for any lumps or unusual masses. You can do this in a circular or up-and-down motion. Pay close attention to any changes, pain, or unusual sensations.
Please note: Regular self exams, should not replace any mammograms, if any irregularities are spotted please contact your local healthcare proffessional.