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Dr. Andrew Rynne
MD
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Women's Health Self examination of the Breast

Self examination of the Breast

It is the examaintion of breast by self palpation.

Breast self examinations are advocated for early breast cancer.


How to perform a breast self-exam

Start by looking closely at your breasts. Disrobe and stand in front of a mirror with your arms at your sides. While facing forward and turning from side to side, look for puckering, dimpling or changes in size, shape or symmetry. Check to see if your nipples are turned in (inverted). Inspect your breasts with your arms in two other positions: hands on your hips and hands raised overhead, palms pressed together.

Perform the manual part of the exam in the shower or lying down with no shirt or bra on.

Move your hand over your breast using one of three techniques: the clock pattern, the wedge pattern or the sweeping technique.

Breast self-exam using a clock pattern

  • Visualize your breast as the face of a clock.
  • Place your left hand behind your head and examine your left breast with your right hand.
  • Place your right hand at 12 o'clock — at the very top of your breast.
  • Press the pads of your three middle fingers firmly on your breast in a slight circling, massaging motion.
  • Move your hand down to 1 o'clock, then 2 o'clock, continuing until you return to 12 o'clock.
  • Continue in the same pattern, moving your hand in smaller circles toward your nipple.
  • Check the tissue under the nipple and look for discharge.
  • Check the tissue under your armpit and surrounding your breast.
  • Place your right hand behind your head and repeat the examination on your right breast using your left hand.

Breast self-exam using a wedge pattern

  • Visualize your breast as a circle divided into wedges, like pieces of a pie.
  • Place your left hand behind your head and examine your left breast with your right hand.
  • Press the pads of your three middle fingers firmly on your breast in a slight circling, massaging motion.
  • Start at the top of your breast about a half-inch below your collarbone and slide your fingers in toward your nipple as you massage.
  • Examine the breast tissue in the entire wedge — or piece of pie.
  • Move your fingers clockwise to the next wedge in the circle.
  • Continue examining your breast in this manner until you've completely examined your breast and underarm.
  • Place your right hand behind your head and repeat the examination on your right breast using your left hand.

Breast self-exam using a sweeping technique

  • Place your left hand behind your head and examine your left breast with your right hand.
  • Instead of a circling, massaging motion, sweep your three middle fingers from your collarbone down to your nipple.
  • Work clockwise around your breast.
  • Sweep your fingers from the outside of your breast in toward your nipple.
  • To feel deeper breast tissue, repeat the process using a walking motion with your fingers.
  • Continue examining your breast in this manner until you've completely examined your breast and underarm.
  • Place your right hand behind your head and repeat the examination on your right breast using your left hand.