Breast Self-Examination

In addition to regular mammograms and clinical breast examinations, clients should watch for irregular changes in their breasts by performing regular breast self-examinations. As a skin care professional, it is important to remind clients to stay aware of breast health and irregularities in their breasts. If a client performs a breast self-examination regularly, they will familiarize themselves with how their breasts normally feel so that they are able to spot differences more easily. Clients should look for development of lumps, discharge, swelling, dimpling, and nipple abnormalities.

Skin care professionals should advise clients on how to examine themselves. Here are the steps clients should follow:

  1. While standing in front of a mirror, clients should check each breast for any abnormalities, including dimpling, puckering, and scaliness.
  2. They should then place their hands behind their head and check for any change in the outline or shape of their breasts. Then, they can position their hands firmly on their hips, push the shoulders and elbows forward, and look again for any visual differences.
  3. Each nipple needs to be gently squeezed to check for any discharge.
  4. Lying down, which is the best way to examine breasts as the breast tissue spreads evenly, the client should place their right hand behind their head and a pillow under the right shoulder. The finger pads on their left hand can be used to check the right breast for lumps by making adjacent dime-sized circular motions to check the breast tissue. They should use different levels of pressure to feel all the tissue.
  5. Using the same three fingers, they can then move their left hand to the top of their right breast and directly under the armpit. Next, they can move their fingers in an up and down motion across the breast until the sternum is reached.
  6. Advise clients to repeat the exam on their left breast.

Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). How to Perform a Breast Self-Examination.
American Cancer Society. (2014, September 10). Breast awareness and self-exam.

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