Healthsheet

Breast Self-Exam (BSE)

Breast Self-Exam (BSE)

Your breasts change throughout your life. But monthly breast self-exams can help you learn what is normal for you. That way, you are more likely to notice any unusual changes. Try to check your breasts one week after your period each month. If you don’t have periods, aim for the first of each month.

Image of woman

Look for Changes

Look in the mirror with your hands at your sides. Then raise your arms. Do you see any flattening, bulging, or puckering on your breasts? Next, raise your arms, then put your hands on your hips. Look for changes in your breast movement or shape as you move your arms.


 

Arrows showing up-and-down pattern to follow

Feel for Changes

Lie on your side with a pillow under your right shoulder. Put your right arm above your head. (You can also do this exam in the shower with soapy hands.)

  • Feel your right breast with your left hand.

  • Use an up-and-down pattern. Use the same pattern each month.

  • Use the pads of your three middle fingers. Move over the breast in small circles (the size of a dime).

  • Feel for lumps or thickening.

  • Repeat on your left side.

  • Note any discharge from your nipple.


 

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you find any of the following:

  • New lumps or thickening

  • Puckering of the skin or other changes

  • Spontaneous or bloody discharge from the nipple


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