A clinical breast examination (CBE) is a physical examination of
the breast done by a health professional. Clinical breast examinations are used
mammograms to check women for
breast cancer. Clinical breast examinations are also
used to check for other breast problems.
Medical experts disagree
about the need for regular clinical breast examinations. Some studies show that
mammogram tests alone reduce breast cancer deaths just as well as using
mammograms and CBE.
A clinical breast examination may be part of
your regular checkup. Talk with your health professional about how often you
need a breast examination.
Breast implants do not change a woman's
chance of getting breast cancer, so women with breast implants should also have
regular clinical breast examinations.
Why It Is Done
A clinical breast examination is done
- Find a lump or change in the breast that may
mean a serious problem is present, such as breast cancer.
other breast problems that may need more treatment, such as
mastitis or a
How To Prepare
Tell your health professional if
- Have a new lump or change in your breasts. This includes a change
in the way your nipples look or if you have any nipple
- Some women have nipples that sink into the breast,
called inverted nipples. For these women, this is normal. But if you do not
have inverted nipples and notice a change where your nipple becomes inverted,
tell your doctor.
- Have pain in one breast, especially if the pain
is not related to having your
- Are or might be
- Are breast-feeding.
- Have breast
- Have had a breast biopsy.
- Have completed
- Are taking
hormone replacement therapy.
- Have a
personal or family history of breast cancer.
You may want to have your examination 1 to 2 weeks after
your menstrual period ends, if you are still menstruating; your breasts are
less likely to be tender at that time.
Talk to your health
professional about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its
risks, how it will be done, or what the results may mean. To help you
understand the importance of this test, fill out the
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
How It Is Done
A clinical breast examination is done by
a health professional. You will need to take off your clothes above the waist.
You will be given a gown to wear during the examination.
your health professional will ask you questions about any problems you may
have, your medical history, and your
risk factors for breast cancer. Talk to your health professional about any
areas of your breasts you may be concerned about.
professional will then examine each breast, underarm, and collarbone area for
changes in breast size, skin changes, or signs of injury or infection, such as
bruising or redness. You may be asked to lift your arms over your head, put
your hands on your hips, or lean forward and press your hands together to
tighten the muscle beneath each breast during this part of the examination. You
may also lie flat on the table and put your arm behind your head while your
health professional checks your breast tissue.