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Breast Self-Exam

How to Perform a Breast Self-Exam

Patient Comments

Breast self-exam (BSE) is one method by which a woman can track any abnormal changes in her breasts, and adult women may choose to perform monthly breast self-examinations. Even though breast self-examination is not recommended as a screening tool for breast cancer (routine mammography is recommended for breast cancer detection), every woman should become familiar with how her breasts look and feel and look so she can more easily identify changes she feels or sees in her breasts. Any changes in your breasts (nipple discharge, change in size, color, lumps, etc.) should be discussed with your health-care professional as soon as possible. It is important to understand that if you find changes in your breast, they are not necessarily indicative of cancer.

If you are still menstruating, perform the examination should be performed several days after your period has ended. During this time, your breasts are less tender and less lumpy. If you are no longer menstruating (such as after menopause), breast self-examination should be performed on the same day each month.

Breast Cancer Symptoms and Signs

Patient Comments

If you notice any of the following changes in your breasts, notify your doctor as soon as possible. Possible signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:

Changes in the nipple:

  • Tenderness
  • Change in appearance
  • Nipple that is slightly depressed inward (retracted)
  • Scales
  • Redness
  • Discharge
  • Rash

Changes in the appearance of the breast:

  • A new mass or masses in the breast (not all masses are indicitive of cancer)
  • Unexplained change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Dimpling or puckering on the surface skin of the breast
  • Unexplained swelling or shrinking of the breast
  • Unexplained pain in one area that is persistent and does not change position
  • Redness, warmth, or scaly skin on the breast
  • A hard mass, knot, or thickening inside the breast or underarm
  • Itchy or scaly skin on the breast
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/11/2015
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Breast Self-Exam:

Breast Self Exam - Patient Experience

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Breast Self-Exam - Breast Implants

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Breast Self-Exam - Symptoms and Symptoms

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Breast Self-Exam - Breast Implants

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Breast Self-Exam - Symptoms

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Breast Self-Exam - Experience

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Breast Cancer Evaluation »

Breast cancer is one of the most important diseases for women in the United States and constitutes one fourth of all cancers in females, making it the most common cancer in females.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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