Self Examination


Breast Self Examination

It is important to do monthly self-examinations as this can lead to early detection of irregularities. Follow the steps below to learn how easy it is. If you would like to print our educational leaflet (available in English, Afrikaans, Sesotho, IsiZulu, Xhosa, Setswana, Venda and Xitsonga), then click the button below to download a PDF and print it.


Regular Clinical Breast Examinations by a medical professional are recommended.

How to do a self examination

  1. Stand in front of the mirror and look at your breasts. Lift your arms above your head as though trying to reach the ceiling and look at your breasts in a stretched position.
  2. Check to see that there are no obvious changes between the two sides: no nipple changes or visible lumps.
  3. Now feel your breasts. Use the flat surface of your fingers.
  4. Always keep your hand flat on your breast.
  5. Apply cream, shower gel, soap or oil to your breasts before starting to feel. This will help your hand glide easily over your skin and make it easier to feel for any lumps.
  6. Put one hand behind your head. The free hand will check the opposite breast.
  7. Start feeling in the armpit.
  8. Now move in the figure of a six and around the entire breast, until you reach the nipple.
  9. Now go back to the armpit, moving from top to bottom of the breast, covering the whole area once again.
  10. Last one now, move from the armpit in a side-to-side direction, again covering the whole breast.
  11. The breast starts from the collar bone, down to your abdominal wall and from your breast bone to mid-way through your side.
  12. Check for any nipple discharge oozing from the nipples
  13. The only time there should be something coming out of the nipple is when you are breastfeeding. If the fluid is yellow or green it shows infection. If it is clear or blood-stained go straight to the doctor for a check-up.

What does a breast lump feel like?

Hormonal lumps are smooth and mobile. These change size during menstruation due to hormonal fluctuations. These are normal lumps. Fatty lumps are also smooth and mobile. These form the inner breast tissue and are also normal. Breast cancer lumps are hard, gritty and not mobile. These are not normal and need to be checked.

When and where should you do breast examinations?

Men: At any time, once a month.
Women: Five to seven days after a period. If post-menopausal, the examinations should be conducted at the same time each month.
Remember, breast exams must be done every month, forever more.
The best place to check your breasts is either standing in front of a mirror or lying down on your back.

Who should examine their breasts?

Everyone. Both men and women.

Breast Self Examination
Self Examination

What to look for

  1. A lump in the breast or armpit, sizes vary from a marble to a tennis ball;
  2. Increase in size of one breast;
  3. Swelling of glands in armpit;
  4. Enlargement of one arm;
  5. Dimpling of the skin;
  6. Dimpling of or changes to the nipple;
  7. Discharge from the nipple;
  8. Lowering of one breast or nipple;
  9. Orange peel´ appearance on the skin of the breast and or nipple;
  10. Retraction of one or both nipples;
  11. Dry skin (eczema) of the nipple.

At what age should you start breast examinations?

From puberty onwards.

Will you find these lumps yourself?

Yes. The more often you perform your breast examination, the better you will know your breasts and pick up any abnormal changes.

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