Download 5 Steps to Your
Monthly Breast Self-Exam (PDF)

Visual Exam

Stand in front of a mirror, with hands on hips.  Look to see if:

  • Your breasts are their usual size and shape; also make sure that
  neither looks inflamed.
  • There is any dimpling, bulging, or puckering of the skin.
  • Your nipple has turned inward, or moved from its original position.
  • Your breasts show signs of rash, sores, or redness.
  • Either nipple has any discharge when gently pinched.


  • Methods of Tactile Exam
*Spiral turns, from nipple out to armpit.
*Rows like mowing the lawn, from right to left.
*In the shower, makes feeling possible lumps easier with                     soap and water.

What to look for:

  • Sore or lumpy breasts
  Your menstrual cycle usually causes this change in breast                  condition.  Water retention can cause both pain and a bulky                feeling in breast tissue.
  • Overall small lumps and a bumpy/grainy texture
  If both breasts have the same roughness in the areas around               the nipples and the part of the breast towards the shoulders                 and axilla, its possible that you have fibrocystic breasts.  As the           doctor about this harmess condition.
  • A lump or lumps that feel like a flexible egg and is able to be moved underneath the skin.
  It is possible that this is a cyst.  A cyst can feel hard on the                 outside and squishy in the center.  Varying in size, a cyst is a             harmless ac filled with liquid.  Sometimes they are tender to the           touch.  Cysts are more common in women appreaoching                     menapause.
  • Single, solid lump that feels round and can be moved
  This may be a fibroadenoma, a painless and harmless tumor               made of cells and connective tissue.  Varying in size from a                 small gumball to a a baseball, fibroadenomas are more                       frequently found in women with high estrogen levels; like young             women or women on HRT (hormone replacement therapy).
  • Overall distinct large lumps
         This may be completely normal, a result of concentrated fat                cells, or scar tissue.  Nursing women can occasionally develop            mastitis; a result of a bacterial infection due to cracked skin.                 Consult your doctor, to make sure that these lumps are not due           to infection.
  • Single, solid lump that can NOT be moved
          If you have a lump in only one breast, or have irregular, hard                 borders to the lump, you hsould try and determine if it remains             the same size throughout your menstrual cycle and if it is                   accompanied by any changes in the skin, like puckers or                     dimples.  If these symptoms are all present, this is an                         indication of breast cacncer.  Get evaluated immediately.
  • Sores or scaly skin
          Skin irritation can be caused by many things; laundry                         detergent, perfumed creams, or irritating clothing.  While                     prolonged irritation is cause to see a doctor; in rare cases, this             can be a symptom of Paget's disease, an uncommon form of               breast cancer.
  • Puckering or discharge of the nipple
         An inverted or changed nipple may be a sign of breast cancer.              Persistent clear or bloody discharge from one nipple may                    indicate cancer in your breast ducts.