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Women’s Cancer Communication Project

Coordinated by the European Institute of Women’s Health

Check Your Breasts –  Do a breast self examination

There are two easy ways to do this.

Lying down | Front of Mirror


exam1 Position yourself with a pillow under your right shoulder and place your right arm behind your head, so that the nipple is pointing towards the ceiling. Using the tips of the fingers of your left hand, which are the most sensitive parts of the hands, press gently around your right breast in a small circular motion, feeling for any lumps, hardness or thickening in the breasts.

Think of your breast as the face of a clock. Start the process at 12 o’ clock and press gently around the figures of the clock.

Then move inward an inch and repeat the procedure until all parts of your breast have been examined. It should take at least four circles in total to complete this examination.

Repeat the process with your left breast, using your right hand.

When this is completed bring your right arm to the side and feel under the armpits for any lumps.

Also feel for any lumps in the upper chest.

Repeat this procedure with the pillow under your left shoulder and your left arm behind your head.

pinching Finish by pinching each nipple gently to ensure there is no discharge from them, or a lump behind them. If there is any discharge, you should consult your doctor. And remember, not all lumps are cancerous!!!!!!!!!!


Undress to the waist and stand or sit in front of a mirror in a good light. Remember you are looking for anything unusual such as:

  • a recent change in the appearance of your breasts
  • changes in the nipple positions
  • change in the colour of your breasts, nipples
  • any signs of a discharge.
armsside When standing upright in front of the mirror look at your breasts carefully. Look for any recent changes in the size or shape of your breasts. Turn slowly from side to side, so that you can see all parts of your breasts.
Next put your hands on your head and look for any dimples or bulges in your breasts, particularly underneath. Dimples which are equal in size and shape and occur in both breasts are normally harmless. armsneck
armships Finally rest the palms of your hands on your hips and press down firmly while holding your shoulders back, this flexes your chest muscles. Again, look for any changes in appearance. By regular inspection you will see what is normal for you.


You can also do a breast self examination while you are in the shower. Your soapy hands will glide over your wet skin and will help you check your breasts. If you are still getting your periods, do a Breast Self Examination one week after your period ends. Do check your breasts each month.

If you no longer get your periods, pick a date you will remember every month, for example the first, and do your Breast Self Examination on this date every month. If you forget this date, do the examination as soon as possible.



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