How to Perform a Self-breast Exam?

Posted on Jul 14, 2022

Examining your breasts regularly on your own is an important method of diagnosing and preventing breast cancer easily. A self-breast exam along with other screening methods increases the chances of early detection. The best time to do a monthly self-breast exam is about 3 to 5 days after your period starts. Do it at the same time every month. Your breasts are not as tender or lumpy at this time in your monthly cycle. 

Step by Step Guide for a Self-breast Exam

Breast examination should be done in three easy ways as follows:

  • Visual Examination

Remove all clothing and stand in front of a full-length mirror. Observe your breasts for any abnormalities such as changes in skin texture, swelling, redness, nipple shape, or any secretions. Perform a thorough visual inspection by raising your hands above your head, placing them on your buttocks, and resting them normally at the side. 

  • Physical Examination While Standing

Start by using your right hand to manually examine your left breast for lumps, knots, thickened areas, and other unusual changes and vice versa. Using the pads of your three middle fingers, press on every part of your breast and underarm, ensuring you do not miss any areas. Squeeze the nipples lightly to check for any discharge. 

  • Physical Examination While Lying Down

Lie down on a bed or couch, place a pillow under your left shoulder, and put your left hand behind your head. Use the same technique as you did while standing. Repeat the same for the left breast. If you discover a lump or another abnormality during your monthly breast self-exam, do not panic, as most breast lumps are not cancerous. Normal breast tissue often feels nodular (lumpy) and varies in consistency from woman to woman. Even within each individual woman, the texture of breast tissue varies at different times in her menstrual cycle and from time to time during her life. Just be sure to discuss any unusual changes with a physician right away.