Breast Self-Exam

Eating better. Exercising regularly. Getting adequate sleep. These are healthy habits that can help you live a better life. And there's one more healthy habit for every woman – the monthly breast self-exam.

Studies show that 40 percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so doing a monthly breast self-exam is very important. It takes just 5 minutes and it's easy to do. Here are several methods recommended by the National Breast Cancer Foundation:

In the shower, use the pads of your fingers and move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot.


In front of a mirror, visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead. Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match. Few women's breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.

While lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit. Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.

When combined with annual exams in our office and mammography, breast self-exams can help you know what is normal for you. If you find a lump, schedule an appointment with us but don't panic, because 8 out of 10 lumps are not cancerous. 


Northline Women's Health Center Locations:

15675 Northline Road

Southgate, MI 48195

(734) 282-3600
(734) 282-3603 - Fax

23050 West Road, Suite 210

Brownstown Twp., MI 48183

(734) 362-7000
(734) 362-7077 - Fax