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
You should schedule your clinical breast exam at the same time that
you usually perform your self-exam,
which is three to five days after your period ends. 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.