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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Breast Cancer and the Breast Self-Exam

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How Do I Perform a Breast Self-Exam? continued...

Repeat steps 9, 10, and 11 on your other breast.

Interestingly, cancerous tumors are more likely to be found in certain parts of the breast over others. If you divide the breast into 4 sections, the approximate percentage of breast cancers found in each area are (in clockwise pattern):

  • 41% upper, outer quadrant
  • 14% upper, inner quadrant
  • 5% lower, inner quadrant
  • 6% lower, outer quadrant
  • 34% in the area behind the nipple

Almost half occur in the upper outer quadrant of the breast, towards the armpit. Some physicians refer to this region as the "tail" of the breast and encourage women to examine it closely.

What Should I Do If I Find a Lump?

See your health care provider if you discover any new breast changes. Conditions that should be checked by a doctor include:

  • An area that is distinctly different from any other area on either breast
  • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm that persists through the menstrual cycle
  • A change in the size, shape, or contour of the breast
  • A mass or lump, which may feel as small as a pea
  • A marble-like area under the skin
  • A change in the feel or appearance of the skin on the breast or nipple (dimpled, puckered, scaly, or inflamed)
  • Bloody or clear fluid discharge from the nipples
  • Redness of the skin on the breast or nipple

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD, FACOG on October 07, 2014
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