Beginning at age 18, it is important to perform a self-breast examination once a month during the week following your period. If you no longer have a period, mark your calendar for the same week each month.

Step 1: In front of a mirror, look at your breasts while standing straight, with your hands on your hips.

While in this position look for the following:

  • That your breasts are their usual shape and color;
  • Any abnormalities such as dimpling, puckering or bulging of the skin, changes to the nipple, redness, soreness or swelling;
  • Signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples (watery, milky or yellow fluid or blood).

Step 2: In front of a mirror, look at your breasts while standing straight, and raising your arms up.

Now while in this position you will need to look again for the same things as indicated in step 1.

Step 3: Lie down and feel each breast.

After lying down on your back, place a pillow under your left shoulder, and put your left hand underneath your head. Using a firm and flat touch with the finger pads of your right hand, feel your entire left breast in small circular motions (by following an up and down pattern until you’ve covered your entire breast). Make sure to feel under your arms all the way up to your cleavage area, and make note of any lumps or hardness you may feel.

Repeat this using your left hand on your right breast.

Step 4: In the shower while standing, feel each breast.

With the help of soap and water, raise each arm (one at a time), and check for lumps or hardness using the same small, firm circular patterns as described in step 3.

If during your self-exam you see or feel any lumps, abnormalities or changes with either of your breasts, schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately.