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Breast Self-Exam

How to Perform a Breast Self-Exam

Patient Comments

Breast self-exam (BSE) is one way a woman can track any 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 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 remember that if you find changes in your breast it does not necessarily mean it is cancer).

If you still have menstrual periods, perform the examination a few days after your period has ended. During this time, your breasts are less tender and less lumpy. If you are not 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)
  • Scaly
  • Reddened
  • Any discharge
  • Rash

Changes in the appearance of the breast:

  • A new lump or lumps in the breast (not all lumps are cancerous)
  • 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 spot that will not resolve
  • Redness, warmth, or scaly skin on the breast
  • A hard lump, knot, or thickening inside the breast or underarm
  • Itchy or scaly skin on the breast
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/16/2014
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Breast Self-Exam:

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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Breast Self-Exam - Breast Implants

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Breast Self-Exam - Symptoms and Symptoms

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Breast Self Exam - Patient 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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