Dr Ahmed Ismail

Consultant Gynaecologist & Fertility Expert


Queensway Gynaecology Clinic's 10 Steps of a Breast Self-Examination

The pictures in each step show normal healthy female Breast.

Step 1:

Wash your hands before you examine your breasts.

Hand wash Breast Self Exam

Step 2:

Fully expose your breasts and inspect in front of a mirror the following:

  1. Nipple changes including inversion and also direction.
  2. Areola changes including texture appearance and colour changes.
  3. Breast size changes.
  4. Breast changes in the shape and appearance of swelling or Lump.
  5. Overall all breast direction.
Breast Self Exam  Breast Self Exam Breast Self Exam

Step 3:

Initially sit at the edge of a seat in front of a mirror and allow your arms to hang on either side of your torso.

Breast Self Exam

Look for:

  • breast asymmetry – the breasts should be the same level and symmetrical
  • Deformity – the breasts should have a smooth contour and shape. There should be no swellings.
  • Nipple inversion – the nipple should be protruding outward (see picture for reference)
  • Nipple discharge – there should be no nipple discharge. Express the nipple to see if anything comes out. Nipple discharge can either be clear, white/milky, yellow, green, brown or red/ bloody.
  • Overlying skin changes – there should be no skin changes; no change in colour or texture, no dimpling of the skin, no eczema around the nipple.
Breast Self Exam

Step 4:

Lean forward and make sure that the breast freely moves with gravity without any restrictions.

Breast Self Exam

Step 5:

  • Now raise your arms above your head (you can rest your hands on your head for comfort).
  • Notice for any indentation or tethering of any swellings to your skin.
  • Notice for any abnormal swellings or asymmetry of the breast that becomes obvious in this position.
  • Look in your axilla bilaterally (in both armpits).
Breast Self Exam Breast Self Exam

Step 6:

Repeat the above step but with your arms pressed firmly into your hips.

Breast Self Exam Breast Self Exam

Step 7:

  • Lie down, preferably at a 45 degree angle.
  • Imagine your breast to be divided into 4 quadrants. Use the flat of your hands to examine your breast.
  • Start with the upper-inner quadrant and rotate clockwise round the 4 quadrants. Use a rotatory motion while examining your breast gently feeling for any swellings or tenderness.
  • Once the 4 quadrants are complete, feel the areolar area (around the nipple – see picture for reference).
Breast Self Exam Breast Self Exam

Step 8:

  • Gently express the nipple if you have not done so already, checking for any discharge. Note the colour of the discharge.
  • Then examine the tissue that connects the breast to the axilla ('the Tail of Spence') with your forefinger and thumb.
Breast Self Exam Breast Self Exam


  • Feel in the axillae. If possible, allow the arm under examination to rest its weight (on a table top, or bed) to allow the muscles to be relaxed around it and feel in the axilla, again dividing the area into 4 quadrants to ensure all areas are examined.
  • Repeat on the other side.
Breast Self Exam

Unfortunately, patient not in ideal position for muscle relaxation

Step 10:

Please make sure you report any findings to the doctor.


For more information or an appointment at Queensway Gynaecology Clinic call:

Landline: 0207-935 55 40 / 0207-935 66 00


English: 077 409 444 73 / 077 457 481 88 / 077 450 461 44

Russian: 078 351 255 50 / 078 351 255 51 / 077 962 309 99 / 077 450 461 44

Lithuanian: 077 962 309 99 / 078 351 255 50

Arabic: 077 409 444 73 / 077 457 481 88

Email: info (at) queensclinic.co.uk



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