Family Health: Steps for a breast self-exam

ABOUT ONE IN EIGHT U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. There are a few things that can be done for early detection, such as an at-home breast self-exam. This exam helps women know what is normal for them. They can then report any changes to their healthcare provider. Johns Hopkins Medical Center states, “Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”

To begin your self-exam, pick a day every month that is easy to remember, and several days after your period ends. While in the shower, move the pads of your fingers around your entire breast in a circular pattern from the outside to the center. You are feeling for lumps, thickening, or hardened knots.

Once this is complete, stand in front of a mirror. Visually inspect your breasts with your arms to your side; then raise your arms high overhead. Check for dimpling and puckering of the skin. Next, place your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Keep in mind that few women’s breasts match exactly.

Lastly, finish your monthly check by lying down. This position spreads out the breast tissue evenly. Using the pads of your fingers, check the entire surface. Change pressures in a circular motion covering the entire breast area and armpit.

These few easy steps can help detect any changes early. If you do find a lump, schedule an appointment with your doctor. But don’t panic — eight out of 10 lumps are not cancerous.

With breast cancer on the rise, take control of your body, and make sure to do your monthly at-home breast self-exam!

This column is sponsored by Owl Now Urgent Care.


column by VLAD V. ADLER, MD

BIO: Vlad V. Adler, MD is a board-certified pediatrician and clinic director at Owl Now Urgent Care in Lakeland, Florida. For more information, visit

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