The Breast Exam

Learning how to perform a breast self-exam (BSE) is an essential skill for all individuals, especially women, as it can aid in early detection of breast changes or abnormalities. Early detection is crucial in the successful treatment of breast cancer. Here are the best places to find information on how to give yourself a breast exam and what to look for:

  1. American Cancer Society (ACS):
    The ACS provides detailed instructions on how to perform a breast self-exam, along with visual aids and videos. Their website ( offers step-by-step guides and recommendations on when and how often to perform the exam.
  2. National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF):
    NBCF offers information and resources on breast self-exams. Their website ( provides an easy-to-follow guide on performing the exam and understanding the signs of breast changes.
  3. Susan G. Komen:
    Susan G. Komen, a prominent breast cancer organization, offers educational materials and resources on breast self-exams. Their website ( provides detailed instructions and illustrations.
  4. Local Health Departments and Hospitals:
    Many local health departments and hospitals offer educational materials and workshops on breast self-exams. Check with your nearest healthcare facility to inquire about available resources.

What to Look for During a Breast Self-Exam:
When performing a breast self-exam, you should be looking for any changes or abnormalities in your breasts. These may include:

  1. New lumps or thickening in the breast or underarm area.
  2. Swelling, redness, or dimpling of the breast skin.
  3. Nipple changes, such as inversion or discharge (other than breast milk).
  4. Pain or tenderness in the breast that persists beyond your menstrual cycle.
  5. Changes in breast size or shape.
  6. Any unusual skin changes on or around the breast.

It’s important to note that most breast changes are not cancerous, but any persistent or concerning changes should be evaluated by a healthcare professional promptly. Regular breast self-exams, along with clinical breast exams by a healthcare provider and mammograms, can help in the early detection of breast cancer.

Remember, if you have any concerns or questions about performing a breast self-exam or notice any changes in your breasts, reach out to your healthcare provider for guidance and further evaluation.