1. Health

How To Perform a Breast Self Exam

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Updated June 11, 2003

One out of eight women are at risk of developing breast cancer over their lifetime. Monthly breast self exam is one part of total breast care that includes annual physican exams and mammograms after age forty.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 10 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Stand in front of a mirror. Look for any changes such as puckering, changes in size or shape, dimpling, or changes in your skin texture.
  2. Look for changes to the shape or texture of your nipples. Gently squeeze each nipple and look for discharge.
  3. Repeat these steps with your hands on your hips, over your head, and at your side.
  4. Raise your right arm and examine your every part of your left breast. Move in increasingly smaller circles, from the outside in, using the pads of your index and middle fingers.
  5. Gently press and feel for lumps or thickenings.
  6. Using body cream, if necessary, continue to circle and gently massage the area outside your breast and under your arm.
  7. Repeat with your left arm and right breast.
  8. Lay down. Put a pillow under your right shoulder, and your right hand behind your head. Again gently massage and feel your breast for lumps or other changes.
  9. Repeat with towel under left shoulder with left hand behind head.

Tips:

  1. Menstruating women should do breast self-exam a few days after their periods end. Women who use oral contraceptives should do breast self exam on the first day of a new pill pack.
  2. Post-menopausal non-menstruating women should pick a day and do breast self exam on the same day each month. Notify your physician immediately if you notice any changes or lumps.
  3. Breast self exam should be a routine part of every woman's life. Talk to your daughters about the importance of breast self exam so it will become a routine part of their lives.
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