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Breast Self-Exam: Step-By-Step Guide

Peninsula Radiation - Wednesday, October 11, 2017

At Peninsula Radiation Oncology Center, we strive to create the perfect healing environment for our patients, by using the most advanced radiation treatment technology available. Our patient-focused center and friendly staff create a peaceful and relaxing environment to support recovery for our patients. Some of our patients and their loved ones have been diagnosed with breast cancer, which is detected in over 250,000 women every year in the U.S.

While a mammogram is the most common screening test for breast cancer, it may be possible to detect early signs of breast cancer yourself by performing a breast self-exam. Adult women of all ages should check their breasts at least once per month in the privacy of their home. Below, we’ve outlined the necessary steps to take when examining your breasts.

Step 1

While standing in front of a mirror with your shoulders straight and your hands on your hips, examine your breasts for the following:

  • Breasts should be shaped evenly and without any distortion or swelling
  • Lumps, bulging of the skin, dimpling or puckering
  • An inverted nipple or a nipple that appears to have changed position
  • Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling

It is important to note that many women have uneven breast sizes, which is completely normal. If you’re unsure, contact your doctor for an examination just to be safe.

Step 2

Raise your arms over your head and look for any changes in areas you may have missed initially.

Step 3

Examine your breasts carefully for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples. Nipple discharge can be blood or fluid that appears watery, milky, or yellowish colored.

Step 4

Lie down on your back and use your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Using the tips of your fingers, press gently and firmly using a circular motion. Do this around the entire breast, from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen and from your underarm to your cleavage. To make this step easier, many women take an up-and-down approach when moving their hand in large circles over the breast.

Step 5

Stand up or sit in a chair so you can easily feel your breasts. Raise your right arm and feel your right breast with your left hand, using the same hand movements described in step 4. Then raise your left arm and feel your left breast with your right hand. This step can be done while in the shower when your skin is wet and slippery, making it easier to detect changes in your breasts.

Examine At Same Time Each Month

Because your body’s normal hormonal fluctuations can affect breast tissue, it’s important to do your breast self-exams at the same time every month. This will make it easier to distinguish a normal change versus something unusual.

Questions? Contact Your Kenai Peninsula Breast Cancer Experts

Even though breast self-exams are not meant to replace regular breast cancer screenings, they can assist with early detection and help you alert your doctor if you notice anything out of the ordinary. If you would like to learn more about our treatment center or the breast cancer radiation therapy we provide at Peninsula Radiation Oncology Center, please call us at (907) 262-7762 or visit our Contact Us page.


At Peninsula Radiation Oncology Center, we know that cancer patients are best served by being treated in close proximity to a support network of family and friends. We offer patients in Southeast Alaska the ability to receive state-of-the-art radiation therapy without the burden of traveling great distances away from home.The information presented on this website is provided to allow our patients to gain more knowledge about our center, our staff, and our services.

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