Practice your breast self-exam (BSE)* at the end of your menstrual period, when your breasts are the least tender or lumpy. If you are no longer menstruating or have irregular periods, choose a specific day each month. This should be done lying down — not in the shower or with a lotion on the skin or fingers. Repeat this exam every month, even if you’re pregnant, to become familiar with how your breasts normally look and feel. Don’t hesitate to consult your doctor if you have any concerns or notice anything unusual.
1. Check the outer half of your right breast.
Lie down and roll slightly onto your left side to examine your right breast. It may be easier and more comfortable to put a pillow behind your shoulder or back. Place the back of your right hand on your forehead. Your breast should lie as flat on your chest as possible.
Using the flat pads of your three middle fingers — not the tips — move the pads of your fingers in small circles, about the size of a dime. Repeat each circle three times — once light, once medium, and once deep — before moving on to the next area.
2. Start the circles in your armpit and descend just below the bra line.
Then slide your fingers over (the width of a finger) and move up again. Don’t lift your fingers from your breast as you move them to make sure you cover the whole area. Continue this up-and-down vertical stripe pattern from top to bottom — from your collarbone to just below your bra line — until you reach the nipple.
3. Check the inside half of your right breast.
When you reach the nipple, remove the pillow, roll onto your back, remove your hand from your forehead and place this arm at a right angle. Check the nipple area using the same circular pressure as before. Then examine the remaining breast tissue using the up-and-down vertical stripe pattern until you reach the middle of your chest. Make a row of circles above and below your collarbone, going from your shoulder to your midline.
Check for changes in
Shape: Compare one breast to the other. One might normally be larger than the other, but sudden changes in size should not occur.
Skin: Check for rash, redness, puckering, dimpling, or orange- peel textured appearance.
Nipples: Check for any physical changes such as a sudden inversion, scaliness, redness, itching, swelling, or discharge.
Vein patterns: Look for a noticeable increase in size or number of veins, compared to the other breast.