A breast self-examination (BSE) should be done monthly by women over the age of 20 (see Screening Recommendations). The best time to do a BSE is after the menstrual period when breasts are the least swollen and tender. Postmenopausal women should do a BSE on the first of the month.
Start your BSE in the shower where your hand will slide easily over your skin.
Use the flat pads of your middle three fingers, not your fingertips.
Use light pressure to feel for tiny lumps right under the skin.
Then use deeper pressure to search the mid level tissues all the way to the ribs.
Also check your lymph nodes at your neck and under arm.
Most breast cancers are found in the quadrant nearest the armpit.
Use the grid exam, the spiral exam, or any other method which is recommended by your physician.
Grid Exam - Proceed in a grid pattern covering the breast from collarbone to bra line.
Spiral Exam - Start at the top of the breast and move around in at least three circles before reaching the nipple.
If your breasts are pendulous, use your other hand for support when feeling the tissue.
Look in a mirror for changes in your breasts like dimpling or color.
Gently squeeze each nipple looking for any discharge, especially any that is pinkish or reddish.
Repeat your BSE lying down with a small pillow or towel under you.