You should do a breast self-exam every month about a week after your period when your breasts are the least tender and swollen.

How Do You do a Breast Self-Exam?

Traditionally, the breast self-exam is done in the following steps. Your mobility impairment may cause you to alter the techniques described here, and you may have to have your personal assistant help you with your exam. Do not be discouraged. The key to the breast self-exam is not that it is done exactly as we describe, but that you or someone else looks at and examines your breasts and armpits for changes each month.

Steps for the breast self-exam:

  1. Look at your breasts in a mirror. Look from the front and the both sides. First rest your arms at your sides, then clasp your hands behind your head and press forward, then press your hands on your hips.
  2. Feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting up. Move the pads of your fingers in an up and down or circular pattern so that you do not miss any part of your chest and breast area.
  3. Then feel above and below the collarbone and the underarm areas for swelling. You may wish to do this while you are showering.
  4. Feel your breasts while you are lying down.

For More Information…

For a full explanation with diagrams of the breast self-exam, please visit  and the Komen Foundation.

Our Own Best Advocates: Breast Health for Women With Disabilities (video, 1999). Presents four women with disabilities learning breast self-exam that works for them. Includes demos showing a partner or care provider doing the exam. Available in Spanish. Contact Fanlight Productions at (800) 937-4113.