To perform the breast self-examination, it is necessary to follow three main steps that include observing yourself in front of the mirror, touching the breast while standing and repeating the palpation lying down.

Breast self-examination should be done once a month, 7 days after menstruation or if you no longer menstruate, you should choose a fixed date to perform the exam. Although the exam does not allow a diagnosis of cancer, it helps to better understand the body, allowing the woman to keep an eye on possible changes that may arise in the breast.

All women over 25 years of age with a family history of cancer or who are over 40 years of age, without cases of cancer in the family, should perform breast self-examination to prevent and diagnose breast cancer early.

To do it correctly, it is important to do the evaluation in front of the mirror, both standing and lying down, following these steps:

1. How to make the observation in front of the mirror

To make the observation in front of the mirror, you must stay in front of the mirror and remove all your clothes and observe following the following scheme:

  1. First, observe with your arms down;
  2. Then raise your arms and look at your breasts;
  3. And finally, it is advisable to place your hands on your hips, pressing down to see if there is any alteration on the surface of the breast.

During the observation it is important to evaluate the size, shape and color of the breasts, as well as if there is swelling, unevenness, prominences or roughness. In case there are alterations that were not present in the previous exam or there are differences between the breasts, it is recommended to consult the gynecologist.

2. How to touch yourself standing up

Foot palpation should be done during the bath with a wet body and soapy hands. For this you must:

  1. Raise the left arm, placing the hand behind the head as shown in image 4;
  2. Carefully palpate the left breast with the right hand using the movements of image 5;
  3. Repeat these steps for the breast on the left side.

Palpation should be done with the fingers together and stretched, in circular movements throughout the breast and from top to bottom. After palpation of the breast, the nipples should also be pressed gently to see if there is any leakage of fluid.

3. How to touch yourself lying down

To touch lying down:

  1. Lie down and place your left arm behind your neck, as shown in image 4;
  2. Place a pillow or towel under the left shoulder to be more comfortable;
  3. Palpate the left breast with the right hand, as shown in image 5.

These steps should be repeated on the right breast to complete the evaluation of both breasts. If there is any alteration that was not present in the previous exam, it is recommended to consult the gynecologist to carry out diagnostic tests and identify the problem.

What are the warning signs

Breast self-examination is an excellent way to learn about the anatomy of your own breasts, helping to quickly identify alterations that may indicate that cancer is developing. However, it can also be a method that causes a lot of anxiety, especially when any alteration is found.

So it is important to know that the presence of small lumps in the breast is relatively common, especially in women, and does not necessarily indicate that cancer is developing. However, if this nodule grows over time or if it is accompanied by other symptoms, it may indicate malignancy and, therefore, should be investigated by a doctor. Symptoms to watch out for are:

  • Alterations in the skin of the breast;
  • Enlargement of one of the breasts;
  • Redness or alterations in the color of the breast.


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