The Breast Self-Exam
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Women’s Health Care Physicians
PFS002 Breast Self-Exam MAY 2012
Breast self-awareness means being aware of how your breasts normally look and feel and reporting any changes
to your health care provider. One way to learn what is normal for your breasts and to find any problems is to do a breast self-exam.
w When feeling in the underarm area, sit or stand and raise your arm slightly. Do not raise your arm over your head.
w Report any swelling or lump to your health care provider promptly.
Slowly move your fingers down until you feel your rib cage. Move your fingers closer toward your nipple and go slowly back up to the collar bone in your neck, using the same dime-sized circular motions with your three middle fingers and three levels of pressure.
Continue this up-and-down pattern all the way across your breast, from the underarm area to the middle of your chest.
Use overlapping dime-sized circular motions of the pads of the fingers to feel the breast tissue. Use three different levels of pressure to feel the breast tissue: light, medium, and firm pressure.
Now examine the right breast. Place your right hand behind your head. Starting in the underarm area, use the middle three fingers of your left hand to feel the right breast.
The self-exam should always be done in good light. Stand in front of a mirror. Place your hands on your hips, pressing down firmly. Look for dimpling, puckering, redness or scaliness of the breast skin or nipple, discharge from the nipples, changes in breast size or shape, or a nipple that has pulled inward or to the side.
Lie flat on your back. To examine the left breast, place your left hand behind your head. With your right hand, starting in the underarm
area, use the pads (not the tips) of your three middle fingers to feel your left breast.
PFS002: Designed as an aid to patients, this document sets forth current information and opinions related to women’s health. The information does not dictate an exclusive course of treatment or procedure to be followed and should not be construed as excluding other acceptable methods of practice. Variations, taking into account the needs of the individual patient, resources, and limitations unique to the institution or type of practice, may be appropriate.
Copyright May 2012 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, posted on the Internet, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher.