A Few Minutes towards Healthier Breasts

Breast Self Examination

Breast Self Examination

Prevention is always better than cure.

Self-examining your breast takes just a few minutes but may play a great role in preventing future worries. We would not want to detect a breast lump when it is in its advanced stage now, would we?

Most lumps are detected through accidental findings by women themselves. Although a number of professionals are of the view that breast self-examination has its own disadvantages, this examination helps train one to be more sensitive to any slight changes of appearance of one’s breasts. If every woman were to carry out this examination, the percentage of surgical removal will surely be lower.

Breast self-examination is not at all difficult.


It starts with only looking at your breasts in front of your mirror. Note the normal appearance of breasts, their size, color and symmetry. Normally the left breast is slightly larger than the right. Knowing how your breasts normally look like will make it easier for you to note any slight changes, even though changes may be found in the first week after your menstruation starts. During this period, breasts tend to enlarge slightly and be a little tender. This is explained by the hormonal changes which prepares your body for pregnancy and lactation.  This is a natural occurrence in every woman. Thus, breast examination is less confusing and painful when done a week after menstruation.


Palpation of your breasts (feeling them with your fingers) is best done while lying down. In this position, the breasts spread over your chest which makes it even easier to detect mild changes. Using the whole length of the 3 middle fingers of your right hand, palpate your left breast; first with little pressure to detect any changes close to the surface, then apply moderate pressure and then slightly more pressure, though not to an extent that it gives pain or discomfort. This is done in a circular pattern, either clockwise or anti-clockwise motion, starting from the nipple right up to the sides below your armpits. The same procedure is repeated on the right breast with your left hand.

Cancerous lumps are usually hard and fixed (i.e. cannot be moved around easily)

Lumps are of different sizes, consistency, surface and mobility. Some may be singular while others may occur in groups. One in eight lumps detected are non-cancerous. If you find any small soft lump with smooth surface and moves a little, this is most probably a cyst (fluid-filled bubble-like sac) or an abscess (an infected cyst), the latter being accompanied by pain, tenderness and sometimes fever. One which easily slips off your finger during examination is most probably fibroadenoma (this is a lump which, unlike cysts, is filled with fibrous tissue, and is therefore slightly harder).

Circles, Wedges and Lines

Circles, Wedges and Lines

Cancerous lumps are mostly hard, firm, adheres to the skin (therefore not mobile) and may show skin changes (skin over the lump resembles orange peel). In advanced stages, these lumps are accompanied by pain and bloody discharge through the nipples. The nipple sometimes is turned inwards if the lump is somewhere near.

Examine your breasts regularly, be it by yourself or by Our Doctors; once a month will be reasonable. If you find a lump of any kind, be sure to consult Our Doctors.


Need more advice?

Come down to Our Clinics for a discussion with Our Doctors, or call our clinics for more information:

Singapore Branches


Where to find us – here

Selected clinics are open on Saturday and Sunday.

Email: hello@dtapclinic.com.sg

All Our Doctors are Fully Certified and Trained to conduct specialised STD Screening,  STD Testing & STD Treatment and HIV Testing.

For lady patients who prefer female doctors, we have professional certified female Doctors to attend to your medical needs.


  1. I had a breast ultrasound in May and the doctor reviewed my results with me in Aug and said multiple avascular cysts detected in both breasts but benign. But because the results were for the May ultrasound, should i get screened again to ensure nothing has changed? My breasts hurt especially the right and is very itchy around the nipple. The cyst is close to the nipple.

    • Please see a doctor for proper evaluation. There can be many causes of painful breasts that have nothing to do with your cysts.

  2. Hi Dr.
    Women age 30 is recommended to see doctor for breast check. Should I do ultrasound or memogram ? And should I do? Before Mense or after?

    • Breast cancer screening is recommended for women from the age of 40. However, if you have a strong family history of breast cancer, you should speak to your doctor about earlier screening. Before the age of 35, you should be doing an ultrasound as the breast tissue may be too dense for a mammogram. The best time to do breast exams is just after your menses.

  3. Dr De Souza, how young should one start self examination of breasts?

    • Hello, Healthy.

      A woman is recommended to start the habit of breast self-examination when she reaches 20 years old. Although cancers are rare in women younger than 35, the risk starts as early as 20 years old and increases with age. Therefore, when she is 25-30, clinical breast examination is recommended every 3 years and annually when she turns 45 (annual mammography is recommended too at this age).

      Best regards,
      Dr De Souza


  1. Health Screening for Women | Women's Health - […] breast screening can reduce the risk of death from breast cancer by up to 50%. Performing monthly self breast…