Breast Self Examination

Know when to get your mammogram.

  • Women between the ages of 20 & 39 should have a clinical breast exam (an examination performed by a trained medical professional) every three years.
  • All women 20 years of age and older should do a breast self-exam every month.
  • All women 40 years and older should have an annual mammogram

Facts about Breast Cancer.

  • Finding breast cancer at an early stage greatly improves your chances for successful treatment. Mammograms can help detect cancer before a woman can feel a lump in a self-exam.
  • Every two minutes, a woman in the United States is diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer
  • The chance of a women having invasive breast cancer in her life is about 1 in 8.

* Breast cancer death rates are going down due to early detection. 

Breast Self-Examination (BSE) Education
Ask your health care professional to teach you the correct technique for breast self-examination.

Methods for Breast Self-Examination (BSE)
Use flat pad (not tips) of fingers to examine breast.  Be thorough; examine the entire area, including lymph nodes, from your collarbone to just below your breast, and from armpits to breastbone.  Use three levels of pressure: light, medium and firm.

Lying Down
Place a pillow under right shoulder.  With right arm over your head, examine right breast with pads of fingers using your left hand.  Reverse procedure for the left breast.

Before a Mirror
Look for swelling, dimpling, bulges, retractions, skin irritations and changes in moles or nipples.

In the Shower
Wet, soapy skin reduces friction and makes it easier to feel lumps.


  • Take charge of your health.
  • Practice routine BSE.
  • Schedule periodic mammograms. 
  • Have your health care professional perform annual exams.