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How to Do a Breast Self-Exam


Breast Self-Examination (BSE)

Studies have shown that breast self-examination is a tool that may help you learn what is normal for you. BSE includes looking at and feeling your breasts. If you notice any changes in your breasts, see your healthcare provider right away.

Step 1: Lying Down

Feel for changes:

  • 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 your breast, above and below your 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.

Click here for illustrated instructions for performing a breast exam

Step 2: In Front of the Mirror

Look for changes:

  • 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.

Click here for illustrated instructions for performing a breast exam

For more information visit or call their breast care helpline: 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636)

How to Prevent Breast Cancer from Happening to You

1. Know your risk

  • Talk to your family to learn about your family health history.
  • Talk to your doctor about your personal risk of breast cancer.

Lower your risk now!

2. Get screened

  • Ask your doctor which screening tests are right for you if you are at a higher risk.
  • Have a mammogram every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk.
  • Have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years starting at 20, and every year starting at 40.

3. Know what is normal for you

See your healthcare provider right away if you notice any of these breast changes:

  • Lump, hard knot, or thickening
  • Swelling, warmth, redness, or darkening
  • Change in the size or shape of the breast
  • 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 does not go away

How Healthy Are Your Breasts?

4. Make healthy lifestyle choices

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Add exercise into your routine
  • Limit alcohol intake

Keep Your Breasts Healthy

Originally published by Reprinted with permission.