How to Perform a Breast Cancer Self-Exam

Checking Your Breasts for Abnormalities

Although there is no surefire way to detect all forms of breast cancer, regularly examining your breasts and becoming familiar with what is typical for your breast tissue can help you to spot any changes or abnormalities. Along with staying up-to-date on your well-woman visits with your gynecologist, you can increase your odds of early detection and effective treatment.

Learn more about how you can keep up with your breast exams between your well-woman visits.

How to Perform a Self-Exam

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, women of all ages should perform self breast exams on a monthly basis to keep track of any changes in their breast tissue or any other causes for concern. Follow these steps to perform your self-exam.

Feel for Changes in the Shower

For many women, the easiest way to feel abnormalities in the breasts is while they are wet and slippery, allowing the hands and fingers to glide over the skin easily. With your arm that corresponds to the breast raised, cover the entirety of the breast and under the armpit. Be sure to use the pads of your index and middle fingers, moving them in circular motions about the size of a quarter to feel for bumps.

Look in the Mirror for Visual Abnormalities

Look at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms by your side to look for any abnormalities in your breasts.

You should be looking out for any of the following:

  • Dimpling of the skin
  • Swelling
  • Changes in the shape of your breasts
  • Changes in your nipples

You should then place your hands on your hips and flex your chest muscles. While most women have breasts that aren’t completely symmetrical, you should look out for any dimpling or puckering that may appear on one side.

Lie Down and Feel for Changes

When you lie down, your breast tissue tends to spread out evenly across your chest, making it easier to feel for any lumps or bumps that may have been missed while standing. Using the opposite hand to the breast that you’re examining, use the pads of your fingers in a circular motion to cover the surface of your breast as well as your armpit.

If you notice any abnormalities in the way that your breasts look or feel, be sure to alert your women’s health physician so they can help to determine any necessary next steps.

Women’s Health Services in Ridgecrest, California

At Ridgecrest Regional Hospital Women’s Health Services department,you can rest assured knowing that your needs are in the most capable hands. Our experienced and compassionate physicians provide attentive and personalized care for women of all ages.


To learn more about our women’s health services or schedule an appointment, visit our website or give us a call at (760) 446-3551.