Breast Self Examination (BSE)

One of The Most Important Things Women Can do For Their Health!

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A breast self examination only takes a couple minutes once a month and could save your life. Any woman can get breast cancer, the number two cause of cancer related deaths in women. When discovered early breast cancer has a ninety percent chance of being cured. By examining your breasts regularly you will know how they usually feel and notice if there's a change. Tell your doctor immediately if you find any lumps, thickenings or changes in your breasts. Most lumps are found by women themselves and are not cancerous. Still, if you find a change in your breasts you want to have it examined. Delaying medical attention will not change the diagnosis, but can worsen your prognosis.


The best time is once a month, two to three days after the conclusion of your period. Just before your period or during pregnancy, your breasts may be somewhat lumpy or more tender making it more difficult to distinguish irregularities. The most important thing is to do the exams. If you forget, do it when you remember.


Look in the mirror: Check for any changes in the shape or appearance of your breasts. Note any skin or nipple changes such as dimpling, nipple discharge, or scaling. Inspect your breasts in the following positions: arms at your sides, arms overhead, hands on hips pressing firmly to flex chest muscles, and bending forward. Note any changes.

Laying down: Put a pillow under your right shoulder and your right hand under your head. Check your entire right breast area with the finger pads of your left hand. Feel for lumps using a circular, rubbing motion in small, dime-sized circles without lifting the fingers. Next check the breast tissue with increasing pressure; light, medium, and heavy. The breast tissue extends under the arm and up toward the collarbone so don't forget to check these areas as well. Gently squeeze the nipple to check for discharge. Use your right hand to repeat these steps on your left breast.

In the shower: Raise your right arm and with the soapy finger pads of your left hand check the right breast by making the same small circles you made laying down. Check the underarm and upper chest. Squeeze the nipple for discharge. Then switch sides.

Please, report any irregularities to your health care provider!

Visit the Online Breast Cancer Resource Pages for more information on Breast Self Examination or Breast Cancer in general.

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