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Clinical Breast Examination

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Updated November 20, 2012

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Clinical Breast Exam - Visual Examination, Part Two
Clinical Breast Exam - Arms Up

Clinical Breast Exam - Arms Up

Art © Pam Stephan

The visual examination part of your clinical breast exam continues while you are still sitting up. You will be asked to hold your arms overhead, move your arms out to the side, and to put your hands on your hips. This isn't just calesthenics - there are some good reasons for moving your arms during your CBE.

Your breast tissue rests on top of your chest wall muscles. When you move your arms in a symmetrical way, your breasts should also move symmetrically. As you move both arms, your breasts will change shape slightly, and may reveal changes in contour or drape. Nipples may sometimes pull in as you lift your arms. And when your arms are overhead, it is easier for your doctor to see the lymph nodes in your armpits. The way your breast tissue responds to your arm movement gives the doctor some clues about where to focus during the manual part of your clinical breast exam.

Clinical Breast Exam - Manual Examination

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