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Clinical Breast Examination


Updated November 20, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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Clinical Breast Exam – Nipple and Areola Examination
Clinical Breast Exam Nipple Check

Clinical Breast Exam Nipple Check

Art © Pam Stephan

The last part of your clinical breast exam is a manual examination of your nipples and areolas. When you do your monthly breast self-exam, you may notice some nipple changes - bring these to the attention of your doctor.

The doctor will check for nipple discharge, skin color, and position. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any nipple pain, are pregnant or breastfeeding, have had any breast surgery, or have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer. If there is any nipple discharge other than breast milk, it may be sampled and sent for lab tests.

Your doctor will check your nipple position by gently squeezing either nipple with the index and middle fingers and pulling forward. They will watch to see if the nipple springs back into place, or if it pulls back into the breast.

Your areolas will also be examined, to see if you have any pain or swelling beneath them, as that may be a subareolar abscess. If the areola is bumpy, persistently itchy, red, scaly, or tingles, it could be an infection or Paget's disease of the nipple, a type of breast cancer.

Clinical Breast Exam - Benefits to Remember

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  5. Imaging and Screening Tests
  6. Clinical Breast Exam – Nipple and Areola Examination - Clinical Breast Exam

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