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The Clinical Breast Exam
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Your healthcare provider should examine your breasts at your annual check-up to feel for abnormalities and lumps. If you go to your doctor with a lump that you detected on your own, he or she will be able to tell a lot about it by feeling the surrounding tissue, and make further recommendations. Your doctor may be able to tell the difference between a benign and cancerous lump. Generally, if the lump is hard, oddly shaped or firmly attached to the breast, it is more likely to be cancerous. Soft, smooth, round and moveable lumps are generally benign. Your provider will prescribe a diagnostic mammogram if there is cause for concern.

Your provider will use many of the techniques that you perform in your self-exam, looking for discoloration and abnormalities in the way the breasts look, pressing around your nipple, feeling your breast, and asking you to put your hands and arms in different positions. Your provider can also talk to you about how to do a self-exam if you have questions. Your provider will ask you to lie down and sit up to check your breasts in different positions.

If your provider sees something abnormal, he or she will recommend the proper options for further testing, which could include diagnostic mammography, MRI, ultrasound or a biopsy. Often, your provider will perform fine needle aspiration at the office if they find something abnormal. Fine needle aspiration is a test that uses a fine gauge needle and syringe to extract cellular material from a cyst or a lump in a breast. Your provider will then send that material to a laboratory for further testing.

Click below to read about related topics.

Introduction
Your Breasts
Breast Cancer Basics
The Breast Self-Exam
The Clinical Breast Exam
Mammogram
Breast Cancer Treatment
Other Breast Problems