A breast self exam should be performed monthly to check for any changes in your breasts. Remember that changes can occur because of aging, your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, menopause, or taking birth control pills or other types of hormones. It is normal for your breasts to feel a little lumpy or uneven. It is also common for your breasts to be swollen or tender just before or during  your menstrual period. You can follow these steps to examine your breasts:

Step 1: Before A Mirror

  • Firmly press your hands down on your hips to tighten your chest muscles
  • Look carefully for any changes in the size, shape, or contour of your breasts
  • Check for anything unusual: discharge, puckering, dimpling, or changes in skin texture

Step 2: Lying Down

  • Lie flat on your back, and place your left hand behind your head and a pillow under your left shoulder
  • Use the finger pads of the three middle fingers on your right hand to make overlapping dime-sized circular motions to feel your left breast
  • Apply three different levels of pressure, light, medium, and firm, with your finger pads to check the breast tissue
  • Use each pressure level to feel for lumps before moving to the next spot
  • Start by your armpit and move down to just below your breast
  • Use the same circular motions using an up-and-down pattern to cover the entire breast area
  • Repeat on your right breast using your left hand

Step 3: Sitting or Standing

  • Raise your arm slightly
  • Use the same circular motions with your finger pads to examine each underarm

Breast self-exams should not take the place of regular screening mammograms or clinical breast exams, which can be done at Texas Breast Care Clinic. Screening mammograms and clinical breast exams can help our breast doctors find breast cancer early. Breast cancer treatment is more successful when the breast cancer is found in the early stages.