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Steps to Breast Self-Examination

It’s always worth repeating: The sooner a problem is found, the better the chances for treatment and recovery. Regular monthly breast self-exams are key to early detection and empower you to take charge of your health.

Just as your period ends (or at the same time each month if you do not have periods), check for any change in the normal look or feel of your breasts. Report any changes to your doctor or nurse. Go for regular breast exams and ask about a mammogram.

Step 1: Lying Down

  • Lie down on your back with a pillow under your right shoulder
  • Use the pads of the three middle fingers on your left hand to check your right breast
  • Press using light, medium and firm pressure in a circle without lifting your fingers off the skin
  • Follow an up and down pattern
  • Feel for changes in the breast, above and below the collarbone, and in your armpit
  • Repeat on your left breast using your right hand

These steps may be repeated while bathing or showering using soapy hands.

Step 2: In Front of the Mirror

Look for any changes from normal. Inspect your breasts in four steps: 

  • Hold arms at your side
  • Hold arms over your head
  • Press your hands on your hips and tighten your chest muscles
  • Bend forward with your hands on your hips

See your doctor or nurse if you notice any of these things in your breasts:

  • Lump, hard knot or thickening
  • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening
  • Change in size or shape
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin
  • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
  • Pulling in of your nipple or other parts
  • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
  • New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away

Susan G. Komen for the Cure recommends the following:

  • Mammograms every year starting at age 40
    • Women under 40 with either a family history of breast cancer or other concerns should talk with a health care provider. Screening tests may be needed more often and/or started earlier.
  • Clinical breast exams by a health care provider at least every three years starting at age 20, and every year after 40
  • Breast self-exams every month starting at age 20

For more information about breast health or breast cancer, please visit Susan G. Komen for the Cure at or call 1-800 I’M AWARE (1-800-462-9273).


Written by Jaime

thUTCp31UTC10bUTCThu, 04 Oct 2007 04:58:14 +0000 11, 2008 at 4:58 am

Posted in Weddings

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