How To: Breast Self-Exams

Photo by Danielle Gallo

Although National Breast Cancer Awareness month is over, we don’t need to stop discussing prevention methods to potentially save ourselves from this disease. We did some research to discover that about one in eight women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. According to, “A woman’s risk of breast cancer approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.” However, 85% of breast cancer diagnoses occur in women who have no family history of it.

While October serves as an opportunity to remember those who have lost their lives to breast cancer, to give congratulations those who have beat it and to support those who are fighting it, we must also focus on prevention 365 days a year. In order to protect ourselves from becoming another statistic, we have the ability to give ourselves at-home breast exams— an easy way to catch indicators of the early signs of breast cancer.

We spoke to Linda Kuczynski, a nurse case manager at Humana to get some tips on how to properly conduct a breast self-exam. Linda says there’s no better way to protect ourselves and detect cancer early than to regularly self-examine ourselves.

According to Linda, many women have found lumps themselves which lead to early diagnoses of breast cancer. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better chance of a happy outcome.

Here are Linda’s recommendations for how to properly conduct a breast self-exam.

Breast self-examinations can be given in the shower or, ideally, in bed while lying flat on your back. Use your right hand to examine your left breast and your left hand to examine your right breast. Press down on the surrounding tissue around the breast at one inch deep at least. Don’t forget to check the under arm area for lumps as well. Look for any lumps, nipple drainage, discoloration or any other changes during your exams.

“Women should start self-examining themselves at age 20 and doing it monthly is recommended,” Linda says. She is also adamant that knowing our bodies is important, because it’ll be easier for us to identify a change or something that doesn’t seem right.

If you have any questions about how to give yourself a proper breast exam or if you find something out of the ordinary during an exam, contact your OBGYN immediately.  

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