Specialty Centers  > Breast Center  > Education and Prevention  > Breast Self Exam 

Since early detection is critical in protecting yourself against breast cancer, we suggest monthly breast self exams and learning some of the warning signs of breast cancer. In addition to self exams, regular mammograms also are recommended.

Breast Cancer Warning Signs:

A change in the feel or look of the breast

  • A change in the size or shape of the breast
  • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area
  • A warm sensation in the breast

A change in the feel or look of the nipple

  • A retraction of the nipple
  • A discharge from the nipple
  • A rash on the nipple or areola
  • Nipple tenderness, increased sensitivity or pain

Nipple Discharge

  • Blood or fluid other than breast milk secreted from the nipple

A change in the feel or look of the skin of the breast, areola or nipple

  • Dimpling of the skin on the breast (like the skin of an orange)
  • The appearance of irritated, red, scaly or swollen skin on the breast, nipple or areola

Breast Pain

  • Although breast pain is usually associated with benign breast disease rather than breast cancer, it can be a symptom of either condition

Adapted from the National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Not sure about how to do a self breast exam? Here's how: 

Step One ... in the shower

Stand in the shower and with fingers flat (use the pad of your fingers) move your hand gently over every part of each breast. Check for a lump, knot or thickening. Use right hand for left breast, left hand for right breast.







Step Two ... in front of a mirror



With your hands at your sides, visually check for lumps and depressions. Then, placing your palms on your hips, press down firmly, flex your chest muscles and check again. Don't worry if your breasts don't match.









Step Three ... in front of a mirror

Now raise your arms overhead. Look for changes in the contour of each breast as well as swelling or dimpling of the skin and changes in the nipple.








Step Four ... lying down

To examine your right breast, place a pillow or folded towel under your right shoulder and, with elbow bent, lay your right hand on your forehead. Do the same procedure for the other side.






Step Five ... lying down


With fingers flat, use your left hand to press an imaginary clock face on your right breast. Check for lumps or depressions. A ridge of firm tissue in the lower ridge is normal. Move in an inch toward the nipple and make the same circling motion again and again until you reach the center. Repeat with right hand, left breast.







Step Six: Lying down

Gently squeeze the nipple of each breast. Check for any unusual discharge, clear or bloody. Report any lumps, thickening or discharge you discover during this examination to your doctor immediately.