Muskegon & the Lakeshore:
Breast self-exam (BSE) is a tool that may help you learn what is normal for you. BSE involves looking at and feeling your breasts. Women who practice BSE should also be sure to get mammograms and clinical breast exams at the appropriate age. BSE should not be substituted for these screening tests.
The best time to do a self-breast exam is about 3-5 days after your period starts. Your breasts are not as tender or lumpy at this time in your monthly cycle.
If you have gone through menopause, do your exam on the same day every month.
Begin by lying on your back. It is easier to examine all breast tissue if you are lying down.
- Place your right hand behind your head. With the middle fingers of your left hand, gently yet firmly press down using small motions to examine the entire right breast.
- Next, sit or stand. Feel your armpit, because breast tissue goes into that area.
- Gently squeeze the nipple, checking for discharge. Repeat the process on the left breast.
- Use one of the patterns shown in the diagram to make sure that you are covering all of the breast tissue.
Next, stand in front of a mirror with your arms by your side.
- Look at your breasts directly and in the mirror. Look for changes in skin texture, such as dimpling, puckering, indentations, or skin that looks like an orange peel.
- Also note the shape and outline of each breast.
- Check to see if the nipple turns inward.
Do the same with your arms raised above your head.
Most women have some lumps. Your goal is to find anything new or different. If you do, call your health care provider right away.
For more detailed information, click here.
Know What's Normal
See your health care 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 of the breast
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
- New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away