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    Breast Cancer and the Breast Self-Exam

    It’s a good idea to get to know what’s normal for your breasts. That way, you can check in with your doctor if you notice something unusual, such as a lump, skin change, or discharge.

    But should you do a breast self-exam? Medical groups don’t agree on that. You can ask your doctor for advice on whether it would be helpful for you.

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    What Is a Breast Self-Exam?

    It’s way for you to check your breasts for changes, such as lumps or thickenings. You’ll look at and feel both breasts. If you notice anything unusual, tell your doctor. In many cases, those changes aren’t cancer, but you need to see your doctor to find out.

    How Do I Do a Breast Self-Exam?

    If you choose to do one, follow these steps:

    In the mirror:

    1. Stand undressed from the waist up in front of a large mirror in a well-lit room. Look at your breasts. If they aren’t equal in size or shape, that’s OK!  Most women's breasts aren't. With your arms relaxed by your sides, look for any changes in size, shape, or position, or any breast skin changes. Look for any puckering, dimpling, sores, or discoloration.
    2. Check your nipples and look for any sores, peeling, or change in their direction.
    3. Place your hands on your hips and press down firmly to tighten the chest muscles beneath your breasts. Turn from side to side so you can look at the outer part of your breasts.
    4. Then bend forward toward the mirror. Roll your shoulders and elbows forward to tighten your chest muscles. Your breasts will fall forward. Look for any changes in their shape or contour.
    5. Now, clasp your hands behind your head and press your hands forward. Again, turn from side to side to inspect your breasts' outer portions. Remember to look at the border underneath them. You may need to lift your breasts with your hand to see it.
    6. Check your nipples for discharge fluid. Place your thumb and forefinger on the tissue surrounding the nipple and pull outward toward the end of the nipple. Look for any discharge. Repeat on your other breast.
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