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How To Perform a Breast Self-Exam

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. With this in mind, every woman needs to be aware of the early signs of breast cancer. That is why doing breast self-examinations every month is crucial. 

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc., a woman should check her breasts at least once a month for any abnormalities. These exams also help to understand what one’s normal breast looks like and feels like in case there are any changes to the way that they normally look or feel. 

The National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc., explains multiple ways to check for unusual lumps or changes:  

Lying Down 

When you lie down, all the tissue lies flat, making it easier for any lumps to be felt. You should put a pillow under your left shoulder and put your left arm behind your head. Use your right hand and feel around in small, circular motions until you have examined the whole breast and armpit. Notice any lumps, knots, or fluids coming out of the nipples. Then, repeat on your right breast.

In the Shower

While in the shower, put your right arm behind your head and use circular motions to feel for any abnormalities. This should be done starting at the outside of the breast and gradually working your way towards the nipple. You should inspect the entire breast and armpit area. If you notice any lumps or thick knots, you should see a doctor or professional about the abnormality. 

In Front of the Mirror

First, examine your breasts standing normally in front of the mirror with both arms at your sides. Then, raise your arms above your head and look for any abnormalities. When doing this, you should look for any swelling, dimples on the skin, contour changes, or nipple changes.

Next, you should set your palms on your hips and make your chest muscles flex. Your breast will most likely not look the same in size, but that is extremely common. Look for dimpling, changes, and extreme differences between the two breasts.



Remember, early detection saves lives. Follow these steps to keep track of your own health, not just this month but every month. If you have a concern about anything you see or feel, it’s always a good idea to see a professional and get it checked out. Stay happy and healthy, ladies! 

– Ivie 

Recommended sources:

National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

Ivie Maher

CU Boulder '23

Ivie is a junior studying political science and business. She loves dogs, bunnies, and ice cream. She loves the outdoors and feels right at home here in the mountains. You can catch her cooking green bean casserole (her favorite), finding new music, or writing her newest article.
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