A monthly self breast exam should be performed by all women starting at about the age of 20. A breast exam increases the chances of early detection and survival of breast cancer.
1. The first part of the breast exam is inspection, or looking at your breasts. Stand undressed from the waist up in front of a large mirror in a well lighted room. Look at your breasts. Don’t be alarmed if they do not look equal. Most women's breasts are not. With your arms relaxed by your sides, look for any changes in your breasts’ size, shape, texture or skin. Look for skin puckering, dimpling, sores or discoloration. Inspect your nipples and look for any sores, peeling or change in the direction of the nipples
2. Continuing the breast exam, place your hands on your hips and press down firmly to tighten the chest muscles beneath your breasts. During the breast exam, turn from side to side so you can inspect the outer part of the breasts.
3. 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 the shape of your breasts.
4. Now, clasp your hands behind your head and press your hands forward. Again, turn from side to side to inspect your breasts’ outer portion. Remember to inspect the border underneath your breasts. You may need to lift your breast with your hand during the breast exam in order to see this area.
5. Check your nipples for discharge. 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.