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Women's Health

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Clinical Breast Examination

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Your menstrual cycle. The changes in your body that occur during your menstrual cycle may make your breast tissue feel or look different.
  • Having fibrocystic lumps. Fibrocystic lumps make a clinical breast examination hard to do because many lumps are present in the breast.

What To Think About

  • Many women normally have breast pain during their periods (cyclic breast pain).
  • A normal clinical breast examination does not mean that breast cancer is not present. Depending on your age and your personal and family history of breast cancer, your health professional may do other tests, such as a mammogram.

Other Works Consulted

  • American Cancer Society (2011). Cancer Facts and Figures 2011. Atlanta: American Cancer Society. Available online:

  • American Cancer Society (2011). Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Facts and Figures 2011. Atlanta: American Cancer Society. Available online:

  • Saslow D, et al. (2004). Clinical breast examination: Practical recommendations for optimizing performance and reporting. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 54: 327-344.

  • U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2009). Screening for breast cancer. Available online:

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerC. Dale Mercer, MD, FRCSC, FACS - General Surgery

Current as ofNovember 14, 2014

1 | 2 | 3

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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