Fibrocystic Breast Changes: Lumps That Are Normal
What Are Fibrocystic Changes?
Why Does This Happen?
Fibrocystic Changes and Breast Cancer
- It is best to do your BSE when your breasts are not tender or swollen.
- Remove your shirt and bra.
- Lie down on your back, with your left arm behind your head. This position causes the breast to settle on your chest and spread out more evenly than it would if you were standing up.
- Use the finger pads on your right hand to feel for lumps in your left breast. Move the finger pads in little circles to feel for any lumps.
Apply different amounts of pressure:
- Light pressure can detect lumps just under the skin.
- Medium pressure can detect lumps in the middle of the breast tissue.
- Firm pressure can detect lumps down near the ribs.
- A firm ridge in the lower curve of each breast is normal.
- Move around the breast using a vertical-line pattern. Check the whole breast area—from the ribs to the collar bone, as well as from the chest bone to the underarm.
- Repeat the procedure on the other breast. Place your right arm behind your head and use your left hand to do the exam.
- While standing in front of a mirror, press down on your hips. Look both in the mirror and down on your breasts. Look for any changes in the size, shape, or contour of the breasts. See if the skin (including the nipple) has any puckering, dimpling, scaliness, or redness.
- Lastly, check each underarm while you are sitting or standing. Raise your arm a little so that you can feel the underarm area. (Note: If you raise your arm too high, it will be harder to feel this area.)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov
Office on Women's Health http://www.womenshealth.gov
The Canadian Women's Health Network http://www.cwhn.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
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Palpable breast mass evaluation. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 30, 2014. Accessed May 8, 2014.
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Understanding breast changes: A health guide for women. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq026.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130214T1505295029. Updated March 25, 2014. Accessed May 8, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 05/2014 -
- Update Date: 05/08/2014 -
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