Self-Breast Exam: Learn The Difference Between Normal and Abnormal Lumps

Every woman is at risk for breast cancer, which is why it should become a part of her routine to regularly perform monthly breast self-examinations.  However, since breasts contain fatty tissue, how do you distinguish between an “okay” and “abnormal” lump?  The answer: the best way to determine what is normal for you is to become familiar with your breasts — every woman is uniquely different.

Most women who feel for lumps likely discover that their breasts have them.  The reality is all breasts are lumpy, the lumpy issue is actually called fibrocystic tissue.  As you age, you lose fibrocystic tissue.  Pregnancy, breastfeeding, weight gain, and aging can all contribute to this loss of tissue — and it gets replaced with fat. If the lumpiness can be felt throughout the breast and feels like your other breast, then it’s likely normal breast tissue.  However, if you find any lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of the breast you should have them checked by a professional. As noted, each woman’s breasts are uniquely different. Similarly, the warning signs of breast cancer are not the same for all women.

The most common breast cancer signs are:

  •  A change in the look/feel of the breast
  • A change in the look/feel of the nipple
  • Nipple discharge

Tips for the self-breast exam

  • Perform a self-breast exam at least once a month to familiarize yourself with how your breasts normally look and feel. Examine yourself several days after your period ends, when your breasts are least likely to be swollen and/or sore.
  • Do not panic if you feel a lump or even lumps — most women have somewhat lumpy breasts. What is important is determining if any lumps seem out of the norm.  If the lump is hard, or “pebble-like,” this could be a red flag of something more serious.

For a step-by-step guide for the self-breast exam, click here.  If you are concerned about a lump you’ve found in your breast, visit your nearest CareWell to be checked by a licensed professional.

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Kaitlyn Henry
Kaitlyn Henry
posted 6 months ago

If you have the ability to go early in the morning, I think that’s the only way you’ll avoid a multi-hour wait. Arrived at 6:50AM (doors open at 8AM, by that time there were 60+ people in line) and I was the ~20th person camping out in line. Got in the door at 8:40AM. Waited for a few minutes in the waiting room while they took my information. Test itself was quick (

philip mccluskey
philip mccluskey
posted 9 months ago

Courteous. Efficient. Competent.

I came in for a cut and they took care of me quickly. Place was very clean, too.

The last thing I wanted to do was go into a medical facility right now. I very much appreciated how professional yet human they were. Thanks to Tara and the whole team there. Doing a great job.