The Circuelle Guide
The ideal time to examine your breasts is when they are not swollen or tender. This is typically one week after menstruation. For comparison, and a better understanding of how your breasts change over the month, conduct another self-exam two weeks later. Women who are no longer menstruating may find it helpful to remember their self-exam date by selecting something as easy as the first day of the month.
Step by Step
- Raise one arm, dropping it behind your head.
- With your opposite hand, hold your middle three fingers together.
- Using the pads of your fingers, feel for any unusual lump or mass on the breast next to the raised arm.
- Look at your breasts for any change in size, shape, contour, swelling or dimpling.
- Check for any nipple discharge other than breast milk.
- With your arm slightly raised, examine your underarm for any lump or swelling.
- Examine the entire breast area by making overlapping dime-size circular motions.
- Pay special attention to the area from the collarbone to the bottom of the rib cage, and from the armpit to the middle of the chest.
VERTICAL LINES Starting in the underarm, begin making small circles as you travel in a straight line down to below the breast. The next line should be right next to the first, moving upwards. Continue until the entire breast has been examined.
WEDGES Starting at the outer edge, move your fingers in towards the nipple and then back out to the edge. Check the entire breast area, one wedge shape at a time, moving in and out until complete.
CIRCLES Beginning at the outer breast area, move your fingers around your breast in a circle. Continue examining in smaller and smaller circles, working towards the nipple, until the entire breast area has been checked.
examines tissue closest to the skin.
allows you to feel a little deeper.
should help you feel tissue closest to the chest and ribs.
Finding Your Place
Helpful Hint: A moisturizing creme can help you facilitate your exam by allowing your fingers to move seamlessly and evenly across skin, while helping you feel underneath the skin, rather than the surface.
Your health professional will be happy to review your self-exam technique and offer helpful pointers. Please, don't hesitate to ask.
IF YOU DISCOVER A LUMP OR SOMETHING UNUSUAL
Do not panic. Contact your health professional without delay. Remember: most lumps found in the breast area are benign The best way to proceed is to act promptly and have any irregularities evaluated by a doctor well versed in diagnosing breast issues.