Page last updated April 2020

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Video Library

Breast Self Exam

Mike Hughey, MD

Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror. Raising and lowering your arms helps identify visual abnormalities.

Look for redness, changes in skin texture, dimpling, contour changes, and nipple crusting.

Breast tissue can be found above the breast and into the armpit. Your exam should cover this area.

Start in the armpit and work your way straight down, moving your hand in small circles. You are feeling for either a firm lump with identifiable borders, or a diffuse, poorly-delineated thickening.

Follow a systematic pattern, so that the entire breast, chest wall and armpit are felt.

Breasts are comprised of milk ducts and breast fat. Together, they may have a somewhat nodular consistency that may change with the menstrual cycle. You are not feeling for this nodularity, but any mass or thickening within this nodularity.

It is important that you report any abnormal findings to a qualified health professional. While most of the abnormalities that women find prove to be innocent, a few of them are dangerous and may need immediate treatment.