How to check your breasts - Look and feel

Step 1 - Begin your breast self exam while standing in front of a well-lighted mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips. Look at your breasts and compare them.

  • Do your breasts have their usual size, shape and colour without visible distortion or swelling?
  • Are there any skin changes such as dimpling or puckering, redness, rash or swelling?
  • Did the nipples change position or is there an inverted nipple?
  • Is there any discharge if you gently squeeze the nipple between the thumb and index finger?

Then place your palms on your hips and press down firmly, flexing your chest muscles. Check again for any changes.

Step 2 - Raise your arms and look for the same changes. Do your breasts follow the movement?

Check yourself from the front and from the sides. Do you see retractions or bulges?

Step 2

Step 3 Gently squeeze the nipples between the thumb and index finger and look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples. This could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood.

Step 3

Step 4 - Feel your breasts while lying on your back. Place a pillow under your left shoulder or your left arm under your head. It will help to spread the breast tissue over your chest wall.

Begin with a barehanded examination: Use your right hand to feel your left breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion. Examine every part of your breast and armpit, feeling for a lump or hardness. Follow a pattern, e.g. vertical strips, to be sure that you cover the whole breast.

Step 4_1 Step 4_2
Step 4_3 Step 4_4
When using your Aware® Self Exam Pad, to aid you in self-checking your breasts for lumps or changes, the tactile sensitivity will be increased while your fingers will glide smoothly across your breasts. The pad reduces friction between your fingers and your breasts and may provide for an easier and more comfortable exam. Add the following steps to your breast self-examination. 

Always follow the instructions provided in the package with the test.


Step 5 Place the Aware® Pad over your left breast with your fingers flat. Press firmly on the Aware® Pad and slide over every part of your breast and armpit feeling for a lump or hardness. Use a circular motion. Follow a pattern, e.g. vertical strips, to be sure that you cover the whole breast.

Then perform both the bare-handed and Aware® Pad exam on your right breast.

Step 5 Breast Self Exam


Step 6 Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. This exam repeats the procedure from step 4 and 5, so should be performed both with and without the Aware® Pad on the right and left breasts.

Step 6 Breast Self Exam with Aware Pad

Any noticeable change during either the barehanded breast exam or using the Aware® Pad, should be reported to your doctor for proper evaluation.

Note: The Aware Pad is an aid to breast self-exams. However, this product makes no explicit claim to find breast cancer, breast lumps or any other type of breast disease. Aware should be used in conjunction with regular medical visits and periodic ultrasound/mammography.

“Most women's breasts have lumps and bumps in them, and it is important for a women to do self-breast exams, so that she knows where her normal lumps and bumps are. So that if there is ever a new lump, she will be the first one to find it and seek a doctor's attention.”

Benjamin Goldman, M.D., North Shore University Hospital