How to perform a breast examination

Check for breast cancer

By Sarah Leavitt, Medical Research EditorLast modified: October 04, 2011

How To Perform A Breast Examination

Breast cancer affects 10% of women worldwide. The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the higher the success rate of treatment. It is recommended that all women perform regular self-examination of the breasts to monitor any changes. If you notice any change to the breast tissue, a lump or a swollen gland, visit a doctor immediately to rule out early-stage breast cancer. 

 How to perform a breast self-exam at home

  • Look for changes

Take notice of the appearance of your breasts from all angles - look straight into a mirror, turn to the side and bend forward. Being able to identify changes in the shape of your breasts from their appearance can help women identify changes.

Take note of the size, colour and shape of the nipple area and visit a doctor if you notice any change.

  • Feel for changes

Using the middle three fingers, feel the breasts for lumps. While standing, raise one arm above your head. Feel the shape of the breast from the armpit to the underside of the breast. Working in a circular motion, move the fingers inwards to the nipple area and note any lumps or swelling. If you experience any pain while performing this test, visit a doctor. 

The same circular motion can be used to examine the breasts while lying down. 

  •  Check the nipple

Gently squeeze the nipple to check for discharge and report any discharge to a doctor. Feel the area around the nipple (areola) and check for changes in puckering of the skin.

  •  Perform breast self-exams regularly

Women are encouraged to check their breasts weekly. The breasts naturally alter with a womans menstrual cycle. To identify a normal change and an abnormality, becoming used to the feel of your breasts throughout the month allows women to identify problems earlier.

NB: Breast cancer can affect men as well as women. Men are advised to regularly check their chests for abnormalities as well as performing self-examination for prostate cancer.



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This article was written by the medical research team at does not intend for any of the information on this site to be regarded as medical advice - it is meant as a starting point for understanding treatment details and options before contacting a registered, licensed doctor. We advise all patients to seek medical advice from a doctor.
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