Breast Examination

Self-examination: This is a procedure performed by the individual to physically and visually examine changes in the breast and underarms.

Breast masses are common, some of which can be felt. The majority are benign, but one in ten is cancerous. A delayed cancer diagnosis can affect the outcome of treatment. Self-examination is not done in place of other screening tests but in addition to them. A woman should do this monthly to know what her breasts normally feel like, and making it easier to detect changes when they occur. Any changes should then be reported to a doctor.

For pre-menopausal women it should be done within the first ten days of the cycle, because the breasts are least likely to be swollen and tender. Post-menopausal women should do this at regular monthly intervals.

What to look for:

  • Variation in breast size
  • Variation in breast feel (masses, heaviness, warmth)
  • Dimpling or retraction of the skin
  • Nipple inversion or excoriation

The exam should be done lying down (to allow you to feel changes) then in front of a mirror (so that you may see changes). By lying down the breast tissue can spread evenly. The pictures below show how this examination is carried out.



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