In addition to regular breast self exams, a clinical breast exam (CBE) performed by a health professional, such as a physician, nurse, or nurse practitioner, is recommended for women starting at age 20. Clinical breast exams are vital for early detection of breast disease and are typically performed once a year.
A clinical breast exam is similar to a self breast exam. Using the pads of the fingers, the examiner will apply slight pressure to feel for breast lumps in the outside, middle and around the nipple of the breast. He or she also will examine under the armpit and check for any discharge coming from the nipple. A trained health professional can often detect a breast abnormality before a woman feels something irregular through a self breast exam. Women should use the CBE as an opportunity to learn how to correctly perform a breast self-exam and to ask questions about the method and breast health.