A clinical breast exam is a physical exam done by a health care provider as part of your regular medical check-up. Guthrie providers are experienced in being able to tell if your breasts are healthy or if they have lumps or other findings that need further testing. Along with annual mammograms, clinical breast exams can improve the chance of detecting breast cancer early.
Clinical breast exams are recommended every one to three years for women 20-39. You should talk with your health care provider about your specific risks for breast cancer to know how frequently you should have exams. After age 40 breast exams are recommended every year.
Your health care provider will look at your breasts for changes in size, shape, or symmetry. As you lay on your back with your arms behind your head, your health care provider will examine your breasts with his/her fingers to detect lumps or other changes. This is a good time to learn how to do a breast self-exam if you don't already know how.
Know what is normal for you and see your health care provider if you notice any changes. Signs you should not ignore:
- Lumps, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
- Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
- Change in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Itchy, scaly, sore or rash on the nipple
- Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
- New pain in one spot that does not go away