Clinical breast exams

Getting a good exam
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How often should my physician examine me?

Along with self-exams, you should have your reasts examined once a year by your gynecologist or primary-care physician. The physician should look at your breasts while you are lying down and standing up. This shift of breast tissue may reveal any inconsistencies, such as dimpling.

Next, the examiner will use his or her fingertips to feel for lumps in a systematic pattern, covering the breast, underarms, and collarbone area. Again, breasts must be felt while you're lying down and sitting up. "If the exam takes less than a minute, it's not long enough! Ask your doctor to be more thorough," says Joann Schellenbach, spokesperson for the American Cancer Society.

If you're shy about asking your doctor to examine you more, try telling him or her that you would appreciate a careful, detailed exam while you're in the office so you better know how to do self-exams when you go home.


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