Know your breasts

All women should be aware of what is normal for their breasts even if they get regular screening tests. Many women find their own breast cancer by noticing changes in the look and feel of their breasts.

Women can become familiar with their breast tissue by looking at and feeling their breasts. In the past, experts suggested that women should do this in a certain way each month. Research shows that this isn’t necessary. There really isn’t a right or wrong way for women to examine their breasts. They just need to know the whole area of their breast tissue well enough to notice changes. This includes the entire breast area up to the collarbone and under the armpits, as well as the nipples.

Tell your doctor about any unusual changes to your breasts. Most breast changes are not cancer. It may be normal for your breasts to be lumpy or tender before your period.

Clinical breast exam (CBE)

A clinical breast exam (CBE) is a thorough examination of your breasts by a trained healthcare professional. It is used to check for abnormalities. Research has not shown that CBE is an effective screening tool, but it may still help doctors find an abnormality in the breast or armpit (also called the axilla).