What is a Breast Exam?
The goal of a clinical breast exam is to find cancer early when it’s small and has not spread. Early detection means breast cancer can be easier to treat. This exam is usually done during a routine physical exam. Clinical breast exams are important since your doctor can detect lumps in your breast and other changes that may need more testing. Clinical breast exams may be recommended more often if you have a strong family history of breast cancer. Depending on your age and overall health, you should discuss frequency of breast exams with your gynecologist.
Breast self-exams are equally important for your breast health. Performing a breast self-exam will help you develop a baseline of how your breasts normally look and feel. This is important because if you notice changes in your breasts you can report it to your doctor for further evaluation. Your doctor can show you how to do an effective breast self-exam.
Preparing for a Breast Exam
It’s better to schedule a breast exam when you are not having your period because your breast will not be as swollen or tender. This will make it easier for your doctor to detect any changes in your breasts.
What to Expect
What to Expect During a Breast Exam
Your doctor will look at your breasts to check if there are changes in size, shape or symmetry. Then your breasts will be examined for skin changes and rashes as well as dimpling and redness. Lying on your back with your arms behind you, your doctor will use the pads of the fingers to detect lumps or other changes. Under your arms will also be examined. Your doctor will also squeeze your nipples to see if there is any discharge, and will send a sample to the lab for analysis if there is.
If your doctor suspects you have a lump or other changes, it may be recommended you get a mammogram or other diagnostic procedure.