Breast Self Exam

Following is a guide to performing a Breast Self Exam (BSE). For an interactive BSE how-to, visit www.komen.org/bse. This online tool provides BSE instruction through animation, audio clips and text in both English and Spanish.

Just as your period ends (or at the same time each month if you do not have periods), check for any change in the normal look or feel of your breasts. Report any changes to your doctor or nurse. Go for regular breast exams and ask about a mammogram.

Step One

Step One: Lying Down

Feel for a hard lump, thickening or any change in your breast tissue.

  • Lie down on your back with a pillow under your right shoulder
  • Use the pads of the three middle fingers on your left hand to examine your right breast
  • Press using light, medium and firm pressure in a circular motion
  • Follow an up and down pattern
  • Feel for changes in your breast, above and below your collarbone and in your armpit area
  • Repeat on your left breast

The steps may be repeated while bathing or showering using soapy hands.


Step Two

Step Two: In Front of the Mirror

Look for changes in the shape, size or appearance of your breasts. Look for dimpling, rash or puckering of the skin or nipple, nipple discharge or any change from normal. Inspect your breasts in four steps:

  • Holding arms at sides
  • Holding arms overhead
  • Pressing hands on hips to tighten chest muscles
  • Bending forward with hands on hips

For more information about breast health or breast cancer, please call the Komen National Toll-Free Breast Care Helpline 1-800 I'M AWARE (1-800-462-9273) or visit www.komen.org. The Komen Foundation does not provide medical advice.

Download a PDF of the Breast Self Exam (English and Spanish). This card illustrates and describes the technique of breast self-examination in both English and Spanish.