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What are the 6 Steps of Breast Self-Examination?

It is important that women take care of their health. Women are at risk of breast cancer for various reasons. Early detection can help in proper treatment with recent advancements in the medical field. Self-examination is important to detect breast cancer at an early stage. There are certain things every woman must know about breast cancer and its symptoms. Following the step-by-step self-examination of your breasts can help detect breast cancer at its initial stage. This can avoid complications and save your life. Here is a quick overview of the steps of breast self examination.

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Breast Self-Examination-Overview

Do you know what breast self-examination is? It is a process where the breasts are inspected by the women themselves. The breasts are examined by the hands and eyes. It is recommended that you perform this examination every month to detect any abnormalities in your breasts. Consult your doctor immediately if you notice any lumps or other changes in your breasts. Women who are over 30 years old must carry out various steps of breast self-examination regularly.

Why Perform Regular Breast Self-Examination?

Regular breast examinations can help women know how their breasts feel and look. This makes it easy for women to tell if they can see or feel any changes in their breasts. It is one of the easiest ways to detect breast cancer at an early stage. This gives a chance for the same to be treated easily. It is said that women who noticed lumps or changes in their breasts were diagnosed with breast cancer. So it is important that you self-examine your breasts regularly.

Steps to Perform Breast Self-examination

Here are the six steps of breast self-examination:

Step 1: The first step in examining your breasts begins with a visual examination. It is best to carry out this examination by standing straight in front of a mirror. Keep your hands on the sides so that the breasts are clearly visible. Use your hand and your fingertip to check for changes in your breasts. Check if there are any changes in the shape or size of your breast;

check for any lumps; and squeeze your nipple to check if there is a bloody discharge. Look into your breasts and notice if there is any swelling in the breasts. Press your underarm to check for inflamed lymph nodes. Examine if you experience any pain in the breasts.

Step 2: The next step in self-examining your breasts is to raise your arms above your head and stand straight. Now you must look for the symptoms and changes mentioned in step 1.

Step 3: Now bend down with your hands on your hips, standing on the mirror. This position will tighten your chest muscles. Now check for the symptoms as in Step 1.

Step 4: Now lie down flat on your back. This is the best position to examine your breasts. This is when the tissues of the breasts spread evenly. Place one of your shoulders on your pillow and one arm over your head. Now your breast looks flat. Check for the same symptoms as mentioned in step 1. Make sure to move your hand over the entire breast.

Step 5: You can also perform a self-examination when you take a bath. Your soapy body makes it easier to glide all over the breast. Check for lumps or swelling in the breasts. Inspect the entire breast.

Step 6: The last step in inspecting your breast is to check the nipples for any discharge. Squeeze your nipples and check the colour of the discharge. Make sure to follow the above breast self-examination procedure to detect cancer at its early stage.

Patterns Used for Breast Self Examination

Checking the breast using patterns can help cover the entire breast. Use patterns to inspect the area between the breast and underarms. The area between the collarbone and breast should also be examined. Here is the list of patterns:

  • Line pattern: Move your fingers up and down, covering your whole breast
  • Circle pattern: Move your fingers in circles around the breast. Make smaller and smaller circles until you reach the nipples.
  • Wedge pattern: Divide your breast in wedges and start examining the sections from the outer portion of the breast to the inner area.

When Must You Perform Breast Self-Examination?

Women must start to self-examine their breasts after the age of 20. The breast examination can be done every month. You can also perform this examination after the period has ended. If you are in the menopause stage, then this self-examination can be done on any day of the month. Women who are taking hormone tablets must consult their doctor on when to conduct breast examinations. It is best to make breast self-examination a routine.

Problems With Breast Self Examination

There are certain issues with breast self-examination even though there are various benefits to doing it. Breast self-examination can never replace the clinical breast examination steps. The breast examination is only a tool to check for any changes in your breasts. It is not a diagnostic procedure. There are chances that you may develop anxiety when you notice lumps or other changes in your breast.


1. What are the steps in a breast self-exam?

There are six steps in breast self-examination. You must examine your breasts

  1. By looking into the mirror and standing straight
  2. By lifting your arms up
  3. By bending down with hands on the hip
  4. By lying down on your back
  5. During shower
  6. By checking for unusual nipple discharge

2. What is a breast self exam?

It is a simple at-home procedure where the breast is examined by the woman herself. The breast is examined visually and physically using the eyes and hands. It is checked for any lumps or other changes.

3. What are the steps of breast self examination in medical surgical nursing?

It is a screening procedure to check for abnormalities in your breast. The steps involved in the examination procedure are:

  1. Checking for symptoms or abnormalities in standing position
  2. Looking for changes in the breast with your arms up
  3. Bending forward and checking for abnormal signs
  4. Inspecting your breast in the lying position
  5. Move your hand over the breast during bath
  6. Check for nipple discharge

4. What are the 5 warning signs of breast cancer?

The following are signs that you may suffer from breast cancer:

  1. With a change in the nipple position, the nipple may stay inverted.
  2. Swelling and rashes in breasts
  3. Lumps in your breasts
  4. Abnormal nipple discharge

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