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Breast Check

Your guide to breast self-examination

Early detection is the best protection 

It is important to do monthly breast checks so that you are aware of any changes occurring in your breasts. Remember, finding a lump doesn’t mean that you have cancer. Most lumps are benign (not cancer) so don’t panic if you do find a change—however it’s important to make an appointment with your doctor for further assessment.


  1. Stand in front of the mirror, arms relaxed and look for any changes in your breasts (e.g. size or shape, redness or rash, lumps or swelling, puckering, or any difference in the shape or symmetry of your nipple).
  2. Examine each breast with one arm raised at a time and look for any changes in colour, shape or symmetry. Move
    your hands to your hips, hunch your shoulders to tighten your chest muscles and check again.
  3. Gently squeeze each nipple to check for any discharge.
  4. Raising one arm, start at the underarm and feel your breast by moving the pads of your fingers downwards and upwards, feeling for any lumps. Vary the pressure (push hard and soft) to feel the different depths of tissue.
  5. Begin at the outer edge of the breast and move the pads of your fingers towards your nipple, again feeling for any lumps.
  6. Starting at the outer edge of your breast, move the pads of your fingers in a circular motion until you reach your nipple. It is important to pay attention to the area between your breast and armpit, including the armpit itself.

If you feel anything that doesn’t seem ‘normal’ for your breast, be sure to make an appointment with your doctor. If you are over 40, you should be having a mammogram annually.

Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-420141
Last modified 25/2/2021.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 25/2/2020
For further translated health information, you can visit healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/ supported by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that offers a range of patient information in multiple languages.
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