Skip to main content

Male Breast Self Exam

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What is a male breast self-exam (MBSE)?

An MBSE is a way to check your breasts for lumps and other changes. Breast cancer and other breast problems are more common in women but can occur in men. Your risk is increased if you have a family member with breast cancer or are taking certain medicines. Regular BSEs can help you know how your breasts normally look and feel. Most breast lumps or changes are not cancer, but you should always have them checked by a healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can also watch you and tell you if you are doing your MBSE correctly.

Why should I do an MBSE?

A lump in your breast may be a sign of breast cancer. An MBSE can help you find cancer early, when it is still small. Breast cancer is easier to treat when it is found early. More commonly, a lump may be a sign of a condition that can be treated, such as a hormone problem.

When should I do an MBSE?

If your risk for breast cancer is high, you may want to do MBSEs regularly, such as each month. This can help you find changes or problems as soon as possible. One easy way to remember is to do the exam on the same day of each month. Talk to your healthcare provider about how often to do MBSEs. He or she may give you a recommendation based on your age and other breast cancer risk factors.

How should I do an MBSE?

  • Look at your breasts in a mirror. Look at the size and shape of each breast and nipple. Check for swelling, lumps, dimpling, scaly skin, or other skin changes. Look for nipple changes, such as a nipple that is painful or beginning to pull inward. Gently squeeze both nipples and check to see if fluid comes out of them. If you find any of these or other breast changes, contact your healthcare provider. Check your breasts while you sit or stand in the following 3 positions:
    • Hang your arms down at your sides.
    • Raise your hands and join them behind your head.
    • Put firm pressure with your hands on your hips. Bend slightly forward while you look at your breasts in the mirror.
    Breast Self-exam

  • Lie down and feel your breasts. When you lie down, your breast tissue spreads out evenly over your chest. This makes it easier for you to feel for lumps and anything that may not be normal for your breasts. Examine one breast at a time.
    • Place a small pillow or towel under your left shoulder. Put your left arm behind your head.
    • Use the 3 middle fingers of your right hand. Use your fingertip pads, on the top of your fingers. Your fingertip pad is the most sensitive part of your finger.
    • Use small circles to feel your breast tissue. Use your fingertip pads to make dime-sized, overlapping circles on your breast and armpits. First, press lightly. Second, press with medium pressure to feel a little deeper into the breast. Last, use firm pressure to feel deep within your breast.
    • Examine your entire breast area. Examine the breast area from above the breast to below the breast where you feel only ribs. Make small circles with your fingertips, starting in the middle of your armpit. Make circles going up and down the breast area. Continue toward your breast and all the way across it. Examine the area from your armpit all the way over to the middle of your chest (breastbone). Stop at the middle of your chest.
    • Move the pillow or towel to your right shoulder, and put your right arm behind your head. Use the 3 fingertip pads of your left hand. Repeat the above steps to do a BSE on your right breast.

When should I call my doctor?

  • You find any lumps or changes in your breasts.
  • You have breast pain, or fluid is coming from your nipples.
  • You have questions or concerns or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Ā© Copyright IBM Corporation 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotesĀ® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

Learn more about Male Breast Self Exam

Care guides

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.