How to do a Breast Self Exam

It is important to check your breasts. Make it a habit. Put it on your to-do list. It might just save your life. We have created steps on how to check them and what to look for. If you find anything you have a concern about, contact your GP to get checked out.

Stand in front of a mirror in a well lit room. Look for any changes listed below:

  • A change in size or shape of your breast maybe one breast has become larger than the other
  • Changes in the skin look out for puckering, dimpling (like orange peel) or redness
  • A change in the direction or shape of your nipple, look for flattening
  • An unusual discharge (liquid) from one or both of your nipples
  • A change in the skin on or around the nipple such as a rash or flaky or crusted skin
  • A lump or thickening in your breast
  • Constant pain in one part of your breast or armpit
  • Soreness or warmth (inflammatory breast cancer)
  • A red scaly rash on one nipple, which may itch or burn (Paget’s disease of the breast)

When you are in the shower

  • Put your left arm behind your head.
  • Use the 3 middle fingers of your right hand to do your breast check.
  • Using your fingertips and starting at the middle of your armpit, first press lightly.
  • Make small circles going up and down the breast, moving from top to bottom from the top of the breast at the collarbone over to the middle of the chest and below the breast where you feel ribs.
  • Continue this motion all the way across the breast to ensure you don’t miss any breast tissue.
  • Then repeat above using medium pressure, and lastly use firm pressure to feel deep within your breast.
  • Repeat the check on the other breast using the same steps

When you are lying down

  • When you lie down, your breast tissue spread out, so this can make it easier to feel any changes and lumps.
  • Place a small pillow under your left arm
  • Raise your left arm behind your head
  • Using your right hand, follow the same steps as above for the shower check
  • Repeat the check on the other breast using the same steps

BreastCheck, the National Breast Screening Programme, offers free screening every 2 years to women aged 50 to 69. For more details, contact BreastCheck on 1800 45 45 55 or visit www.BreastCheck.ie

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