Learn About Breast Lump

Number of new cases and crude incidence rate of malignant
neoplasm of breast in female, 2001-2010

Steps for breast self examination

Step 1
Look at the breasts in the mirror and see if:

- Your breasts are their usual size, shape and colour.
- Your breasts are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling
Step 2
Raise your arms and look for the same findings as above and see if there is any discharge (this could be a milky or yellow fluid or blood)
Step 3
Next, lie down on the bed and check each breast with the opposite hand. Keeping the fingers together, firmly touch the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side. Alternatively, you can start at the nipple, then moving in circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast tissue. Make sure you cover all breast tissue to check for any lumps or milky or yellow fluid discharge. Repeat the same step for the other side.
Step 4
Lastly, you can examine your breast while you are standing or sitting. During a shower is often a good time for breast examination as many women find it easier to feel their breasts when their skin is wet and slippery.
Breast Cancer Screening

Regular screening for breast cancer will not prevent the disease, studies have shown that it will increase the chance of early detection, at a stage when it is easier to treat. There are a few ways to screen for breast cancer.

Self examination

From the age of 20, women are advised to take time to do a visual and breast self examination. To do a self examination, please follow the illustrations for breast self examination or consult your doctor.

Clinical check up

From the age of 30, visit your doctor every year to have a breast examination. During a breast examination, the doctor will look at the breasts and carefully feel each breast and the underarm area to look for any lumps, nipple discharge or changes in the tissue or skin.


From the age of 40, women should consider having mammograms every two years until the age of 70. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. It detects lumps much smaller (3mm) than those that can be felt by women themselves, or by the most experienced physicians. Therefore, mammograms can detect cancer early, before it spends to other parts of the body.

The above are the most common breast cancer screening. The following tests can also be done to investigate breast cancer if necessary.

Breast MRI

Breast MRI uses magnetic resonance to create a fine image of the breast with no radiation. It is not necessary for most women to use MRI as a cancer screening tool because it is less detective when compared with a mammogram in terms of certain breast problems. Yet, studies have shown that in women of young age and higher cancer risk (e.g. with BRCA 1 or BRCA 2), breast MRI is more efficacious in detecting breast cancer than a mammogram.

Breast ultrasound

This is best for women below 40 years old. The test screens a focused area of breast and is often used to detect any filled cysts or solid lumps.

Procedures of a mammogram

A mammogram is a fairly routine procedure though some women may find it uncomfortable. Before the examination, the patient will be given a gown and will be asked to remove the brassiere and any necklet.

During the procedure, patient's breasts will be positioned and the X-ray plates will compass the breast tissue. This maybe uncomfortable but it will just last for about 30 seconds.

Each breast is X-rayed at least twice, once from the top down and the other from side to side to ensure the essential part is x-rayed.

Normally, most breast lumps are benign, the doctor will assess if the patient needs have biopsy for more diagnostic tests. Breast biopsy will be performed if necessary and a small amount of tissue from the breast is taken out and sent to a laboratory to test for the presence of cancer cells.

Special precautions before having the mammogram
  1. It is best to have the mammogram after the period as the breast will be swollen.
  2. Do not wear deodorant or talcum powder.
  3. Avoid the test during pregnancy.
  4. If oral contraceptives are being taken, schedule the test on the day a new pill pack starts.

HK Breast Cancer Foundation

Video for breast self examination