What is a breast self-exam?

A breast self-exam is a technique that a woman can use to examine her breasts to look for changes (such lumps or thickenings) that may signal breast cancer. When a woman detects breast cancer in its early stages, she greatly improves her chances for surviving the disease. Most breast lumps (80 percent) are not cancerous, but you can help ensure your breast health by regularly performing a breast self-exam.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/20/2015.


  • American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Accessed 12/2/2013.
  • Batur P, Mayer M, Moore H. Breast disorders and breast cancer screening. In: Carey WD, ed. Cleveland Clinic: Current Clinical Medicine 2010. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:section 15.

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