Clinical Breast Examination
How It Is Done
A clinical breast examination is done by a health professional. You will need to take off your clothes above the waist. You will be given a gown to wear during the examination.
First, your health professional will ask you questions about any problems you may have, your medical history, and your risk factors for breast cancer. Talk to your health professional about any areas of your breasts you may be concerned about.
Your health professional will then examine each breast, underarm, and collarbone area for changes in breast size, skin changes, or signs of injury or infection, such as bruising or redness. You may be asked to lift your arms over your head, put your hands on your hips, or lean forward and press your hands together to tighten the muscle beneath each breast during this part of the examination. You may also lie flat on the table and put your arm behind your head while your health professional checks your breast tissue.
Your health professional will feel (palpate) each breast for any unusual or painful areas or for a dominant lump. A dominant lump in the breast is any lump that is new, larger, harder, or different in any other way from other lumps or the rest of the breast tissue.
Your health professional will gently press on the breast tissue from about 1 in. (2.5 cm) below the breast up to the collarbone. He or she also will examine your armpit (axillary area) and your neck for swollen glands (Reference lymph nodes Opens New Window). Your health professional will likely press gently on your nipple to check for any discharge.
After the examination, your health professional may teach you how to examine your own breasts (Reference breast self-examination) and help you practice doing it.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference February 27, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Reference C. Dale Mercer, MD, FRCSC, FACS - General Surgery