Breast Self-Exam Instructions
The breast self-exam (BSE) continues to be a valuable tool in early detection of breast cancer. Women should learn about doing monthly self-exams beginning at age 20 as part of a program that includes a regular exam by a medical professional and age/health-appropriate mammography.
Women may have heard or read that the value of the BSE is questionable (Canadian Medical Association Journal, Vol. 164, No. 13: 1837-1846). However, breast cancer professionals continue to recognize the value of the BSE as an important part of early cancer detection.
There are a number of good reasons women should learn and practice breast self exams. Before age 40, women should get to know how their breasts normally look and feel, so they’ll be aware of any changes. And although clinical exams and mammography are proven and significant tools in early detection, there are some breast tissue changes — a small percentage — that are not visible on a mammogram but will be detected by a woman or her health care provider through a physical exam.
The real goal of breast self exam is to be aware of any changes and report them to your doctor immediately. Many breast cancers that are found and treated early result in good outcomes.