What Should I Look For When Doing a Breast Self-Exam?

Question: What changes in my breast should I look and feel for when doing a breast self-exam?

Answer: When doing a breast self-exam, what you're actually looking for is a change between this current exam that you're performing and the one that you did last month.

Oftentimes, women will say, "I have nothing but lumps and bumps in my breast, therefore, I don't bother to do a breast self-exam." The most important thing a woman can do for herself and her family is to really identify a road map of her breasts, knowing what are the normal lumps and bumps, because we are looking for a change -- maybe that a bump became larger, or became more firm, or there is a new bump that is there.

A woman should also be examining her breast looking for a rash on the outer skin of the breast, the presence of any dimpling of the skin, which is classic sign that there may be cancer growing inside of the breast, as well as taking a look at differences in the symmetry between one breast and the other. It is normal for one breast to be slightly larger or slightly smaller than its mate. But, you're looking for a difference again, from last month to this month -- if you suddenly do notice that there's a change in the size or the contour of the breast.

Next: What Changes Do I Look For in Breast Appearance During a Self-Exam?

Previous: How Do I Do a Breast Self-Exam After a Mastectomy?