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Breast Examination


It is appropriate for self-breast examination to begin in the teen years, but by the age of 20, you should perform regular self-breast exams. A self-breast exam is easy and only takes a few minutes. The best time to perform breast self-examination is one week after your period starts. There are two parts to a self-breast examination, looking at your breasts for changes and feeling your breasts for changes. Look for changes in your breast size or shape, swelling, and skin texture.  Check for red, scaly, or irritated skin. Look for dimpled, puckered, or retracted skin areas. Evaluate the appearance of your nipple. Note if it turns inward or seems enlarged. Check your nipple for any fluid discharge. You may perform the second part of the breast self-examination standing up or lying down. Some women prefer to examine their breasts in the  shower. Examine your breasts individually. To examine your right breast, raise your right arm and place your right hand behind your head. Examine your right breast with your left hand. Check your armpit tissue as well. Feel your breast tissue with the pads of your three middle fingers. Use light, medium, and firm pressure to feel the different tissue layers in your breast. You should check for a lump or mass. A suspicious lump may feel very firm or hard.  They are usually painless. Squeeze your nipple with your finger and thumb while watching for any discharge. When you have completed examining your right breast, put your left arm behind your head and examine your left breast with your right hand in the same manner. You may notice normal lumps in your breasts during your self-examination. Some women experience fibrocystic breast changes, especially just before their periods. You should contact your doctor if you notice a new lump or change of appearance in your breasts or armpits, red hot swollen breasts, discharge from your nipple, or pain in your breast that is unrelated to your period.


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