Wellness and Health Promotion

Breast Health

Page content:


Familiarizing yourself with the way your breasts feel and look can help you notice symptoms. Self-exams involve both looking for changes in how your breasts look and feeling your breasts to check for any differences in how they feel.

First, use a mirror to look for changes in shape or size of your breasts, as well as any puckering or dimpling. You should also be checking for inverted or turned in nipples.

Next, use your hands to feel for any abnormalities – this can be done in the shower, while lying down, or wherever you are most comfortable. Using the pads of your fingers and different levels of pressure, slowly move your fingers over all parts of both breasts.

What’s normal?

Sometimes you may feel changes or lumps during a self-exam that may cause you to worry. However, breasts are constantly changing, especially during your period if you have one. How your breasts look and feel will also change as you get older.

What’s not normal?

You may find something that requires a physician’s attention during your self-exam. These include hard lumps close to your armpit, thickening of the skin or tissue, dimples and bulges on the skin, inverted nipples, itching or rashes, redness or swelling, and bloody nipple discharge. A physician may want to conduct a clinical breast exam or a mammogram if you notice any of these changes.

Clinical Breast Exam

If your physician feels a clinical breast exam is necessary, they will exam your breasts with their hands to feel for changes in breast tissue like lumps.


Mammograms are the most effective way to find breast cancer early. It is an x-ray of the breast and consists of two plates that flatten the breast tissue to get a better-quality picture. Mammograms can clearly show abnormalities in breast tissue that can give physicians a better idea of next steps.

Breast Health: Linked Citations

American Cancer Society, Inc. (2022). Breast cancer mammogram: How does a mammogram work? American Cancer Society. From https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/mammograms/mammogram-basics.html

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, June 9). Breast self-exam for breast awareness. Mayo Clinic. From https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/breast-exam/about/pac-20393237

Last Updated: 6/27/22