When should I call my doctor about something I find in my breast self-exam?

If you find a lump or any other worrisome changes, stay calm. Most self-exam findings are not signs of breast cancer. But you should still call your healthcare provider if you notice any:

  • Change in the look, feel or size of the breast.
  • Change in the look or feel of the nipple.
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin.
  • Lump, hard knot or thick spot in the breast tissue.
  • Nipple discharge.
  • Nipple or other area pulling inward.
  • Pain in one spot that won’t go away.
  • Rash on the nipple.
  • Swelling of one or both breasts.
  • Warmth, redness, or dark spots on the skin.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Performing a monthly breast self-exam will help you maintain breast health and detect early signs of disease. You can incorporate the steps of a breast exam into your regular routine, such as when you get ready for bed or take a shower. With each breast self-exam, you will become more familiar with your body. When you know what’s normal for you, you will be more aware when changes occur.

Many hospital clinics and healthcare provider offices focus on breast cancer awareness services, including breast cancer screening. You can help your healthcare team maintain your breast health by taking a few minutes once a month to conduct a breast self-exam.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/09/2021.


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