Are Breast Self-Examinations necessary?

Published: Monday, June 14, 2021

By: Kourtney Farrow | Manager of Mammography at NGMC Gainesville

A breast self-exam (BSE) is an inspection of your breast that you will do independently. Using your eyes and hands, you can determine if there are any changes to the look and feel of your breast. Doing a breast self-exam will help increase your self-breast awareness.

BSE can be an essential screening tool, primarily when combined with regular physical exams and yearly mammograms. Breast self-exams are a convenient, no-cost tool that you can regularly use – no matter your age.

BSE should be done once a month. Being familiar with your breast makes it easier to notice changes in the breast from one month to another. Finding differences early is the main reason you should perform BSE

There are easy steps to a Breast Self-Exam:

  1. Stand in front of a mirror with your shoulders straight and your hands on your hips. You will be looking for unusual discoloration, drainage from the nipples, puckering, dimpling or scaly skin.
  2. Now, raise your arms and look for the same changes.
  3. While standing, use three fingers of your right hand to feel your left breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with your hand’s first few finger pads, keeping fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion and cover the entire breast from top to bottom and side to side. Many women find it easier to feel their breasts when their skin is wet, like in the shower. Repeat on other breast.
  4. Repeat step 3 while lying down.

If you find anything unusual or a lump, don’t hesitate to call your doctor. Again, doing your breast self-exam monthly in combination with your annual physical exam and mammograms can help save your life.