The Five Steps of a Breast Self Exam
Step 1: Begin by standing with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips, and look at your breasts in a mirror.
You should look for:
Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and color
Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling
Any of the following changes should be brought to your doctor’s attention:
A nipple that has changed position
An inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out)
Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling
Step 2: Look for the same changes with your arms raised.
Step 3: While you’re at the mirror, gently squeeze each nipple between your finger and thumb and check for any nipple discharge (a milky or yellow fluid or blood). Tell your doctor if you have nipple discharge.
Step 4: Next, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few fingers of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side—from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.
Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast. You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows, as if you were mowing a lawn. Be sure to feel all the breast tissue--just beneath your skin with a soft touch and down deeper with a firmer touch. Begin examining each area with a very soft touch, and then increase pressure, so that you can feel the deeper tissue, down to your ribcage.
Step 5: Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. Many women find that the easiest way to feel their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, so they like to do this step in the shower. Feel your entire breasts, using the same hand movements described in Step 4.