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MoonDragon's Women's Health Procedures Information
Breast Cancer Prevention

For "Informational Use Only".
For more detailed information, contact your health care provider
about options that may be available for your specific situation.

  • Why You Should Examine Your Breasts Monthly
  • When To Examine Your Breasts
  • 3 Step Breast Exam Procedure
  • In The Shower Breast Exam Instructions
  • In Front Of The Mirror Breast Exam Instructions
  • Lying Down On Your Back Breast Exam Instructions
  • What To Do If You Find A Lump or Thickening
  • Additional Information
  • Notify Your Health Care Provider


    Most breast cancer is first discovered by women themselves. Since breast cancer found early and treated promptly has an excellent chance for cure, learning how to examine your breasts properly can help save your life. Use the simple 3-step breast self-examination (BSE) procedure described below.

    American Cancer Society Breast Care Handout: 3 Way Breast Self-Exam Procedure


  • It is important to examine your breasts each month, at the same point in your menstrual cycle. Do not examine them during your menstrual period. Before the period, a woman's breasts may swell and become tender or lumpy. This usually decreases after the period. Follow the same procedure once a month about 1 week after your period, when your breasts are usually not tender or swollen. The breasts usually become larger and firmer during pregnancy, in preparation for breastfeeding. Familiarize yourself with the normal feel of your breasts so that you can detect any changes such as enlargement of a lump. A woman who is accustomed to the way her breasts feel is better able to notice subtle changes. Any changes in your breasts should be reported to your health care provider, and you should be rechecked by a professional if you have any doubt concerning your examination. Since men can also get breast cancer, they can benefit from self-examination as well.

  • After menopause, check your breasts on the first day of each month. After a hysterectomy, consult with your health care provider or clinic for an appropriate time of the month.

  • Doing a monthly self-exam will give you peace of mind, and seeing your health care provider once a year will reassure you there is nothing wrong.


  • This simple 3-step procedure could save your life by finding breast cancer early when it is most curable. For each procedure, think of your breast as an imaginary clock face. Begin at the outermost top of your right breast for 12 o'clock then move to 1 o'clock, and so on around the clock back to 12.

  • breast as clock


  • Examine your breasts during a bath or shower - hands glide easier over wet skin. With the fingers flat, move the hand gently over every part of each breast. Use your right hand to examine the left breast, left hand for the right breast. Check for any lump, hard knot or thickening.

  • breast exam in shower


  • While standing and looking in the mirror, inspect your breasts with arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead and press your hands together. Notice the shape of the breasts. Look for any changes in contour of each breast (swelling, dimpling, or changes in the nipple). Next place your hands on your hips, apply pressure, and look for dimpling of the skin, nipples that seem to be out of position, one breast that looks different from the other, or red scaling or thickening of the skin and nipples.

  • Raise one arm above your head. With the other hand, firmly explore your breast. Beginning at the outer edge, using a circular motion, gradually work toward the nipple. Take your time when examining the area between the nipple and the armpit, and feel the armpit as well. You will have lymph nodes in the armpit; they move freely and feel soft, and are not painful to the touch. Look for lumps that are hard and not mobile. Cancers are often attached to underlying muscle or the skin. When you have finished examining one breast, repeat with this procedure on the other breast.

  • exam in mirror


  • To examine your right breast, put a pillow or folded towel under your right shoulder. Place your right hand under your head - this distributes breast tissue more evenly on the chest.

  • With the left hand, fingers flat, press gently in small circular motions around an imaginary clock face. A ridge of firm tissue in the lower curve of each breast is normal. Then move in an inch, toward the nipple, and keep circling to examine every part of your breast, including the nipple. This requires at least three more circles. Now slowly repeat the procedure on your left breast with a pillow under your left shoulder and the left hand under your head. Notice how your breast structure feels.

  • Check the area under each arm (with your elbow slightly bent). Your lymph glands are located in this area and they may become swollen if your are sick. If you feel a small lump that moves freely, check it daily for a few days. If it does not go away, call your health care provider.

  • Squeeze the nipple on each breast gently between thumb and index finger. Any discharge, clear, watery yellow, or bloody (pinkish), should be reported to your health care provider immediately.

  • exam lying down


  • If a lump, dimple or discharge is discovered during a self-exam, it is important to see your health care provider as soon as possible. Do not be frightened. Most breast lumps or changes are not cancer, but only your health care provider can make the diagnosis.

  • Remember, however, that your monthly breast exam is not a substitute for an examination by a medical professional. See your health care provider once a year (more often if you are in a risk group) and get a mammogram as recommended. Ages 35 to 39, one baseline mammogram; ages 40 to 49, one every 1 to 2 years; over age 50, one every year.


    American Cancer Society
    1599 Clifton Rd.
    Atlanta, GA 30329
    Telephone: (800) ACS-2345

    American Cancer Society

    National Cancer Institute Cancer Information Service
    Telephone: (800) 4-CANCER

    American Cancer Society Breast Care Handout: 3 Way Breast Self-Exam
    National Cancer Institute


  • If you have questions or concerns about breast self-examinations.

  • MoonDragon's Womens Health Procedure Information: Breast Surgery Index

    MoonDragon's Womens Health Index

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