Breast Examination

General Principles

  • Explain the examination and the reason prior to examining
  • Obtain consent
  • Have a chaperone present and document this (along with the chaperone’s name)
  • Ask about any areas of pain
  • Allow the patient to get undressed and dressed in privacy
  • Ask the patient to point out any abnormalities they have noticed
  • Use your examination to teach the patient how to self examine



Examine the patient relaxed, while lifting hands overhead and pressing hands into hips (tensing muscles of the chest wall)

  • Scars
  • Cosmetic Augmentation
  • Asymmetry (size/shape)
  • Tethering or fixation of overlying skin
  • Nipple eversion/inversion
  • Nipple discharge
  • Erythema
  • Peau D’orange
  • Paget’s disease of the nipple



  • Place flat part of fingers over the area and roll tissue underneath
  • If necessary support tissue with your other hand
  • Examine away from the abnormal area first to note patients normal breast tissue and so as not to miss other lumps
  • Choose a strategy so as not to miss any areas (including four quadrants, subareolar and axillary regions).


Examining the Lump

  • Location
  • Size
  • Shape (round / oval / irregular)
  • Consistency (soft / firm / hard)
  • Margins (irregular / smooth)
  • Mobile / fixed to skin or chest wall
  • Tenderness
  • Discharge
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