How To Examine Your Breasts

Learn how to perform breast self-examination with these simple steps. This involves systematically and regularly checking your own breasts. This will help you to become familiar with the shape and form of your own breasts and to recognise any changes that may occur:


In Front of a Mirror

Look for visible changes in the breasts and nipples by turning slowly from side to side while adopting the following positions:

  • with arms at your sides
  • with arms raised above or behind your head
  • with hands on your hips and your chest muscles tense

Lying Down

Feel for changes in your breasts, underarm, and collarbone areas

  • Examine your right side by placing a folded towel or pillow under your right shoulder. Extend your right elbow outwards and place your right hand under your head. Use your left hand to feel for changes in your right breast
  • Repeat the above steps for your left side
  • Using the flat surfaces of your 3 middle fingers, apply light, medium, and firm pressure to examine all levels of breast tissue
  • Feel your underarm. Start in the hollow of your armpit and move towards your breast, making overlapping small circular motions to feel for any lumps
  • In the shower, raise one arm and examine each breast and underarm area with the opposite hand

How Often Should You Perform Breast Self-Examination

Examine your breasts once a month:

  • The best time to perform breast self-examination is about a week after your menstrual period starts.
  • If you no longer menstruate, do breast self-examinationon the same day of each month, for example the first of every month.
  • Continue to perform breast self-examination if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have breast implants.

What To Look Out For

Consult your doctor should you detect any of the following changes:

  • A lump, swelling, or thickening in the breast or underarm area
  • Changes in the size or shape of one breast
  • Puckering or dimpling of the skin of the breast or nipple
  • Persistent rash or change in the skin around the nipple
  • Recent changes in the nipple, e.g. inversion, retraction
  • Any bleeding or unusual discharge from the nipple
  • Skin redness or soreness of the breast
  • Accentuated veins on the surface of the breast
  • Unusual swelling of one upper arm
  • Any enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit and collarbone areas

Most lumps or changes in the breast are not cancerous. Nevertheless, it is important to have them checked as soon as possible as a precaution.