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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 – Benefits to Remember

Your clinical breast exam is an early detection tool that benefits you. When followed by a screening mammogram, your CBE is a great way to check your breasts for benign breast conditions or breast cancer. Smaller tumors (less than 2cm) usually respond to treatment better than larger ones, and are associated with longer survival rates.

If you notice changes in your nipples or find a breast lump, you should schedule a clinical breast exam for a professional opinion and get help. Don't wait until your regular appointment for a physical exam if you are concerned about changes in your breasts. Get a CBE when you see or feel changes that appear to be worrisome.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that women 20 to 39 get a CBE once every three years during their annual well-woman visit. Your family doctor may do one at every yearly check-up. Women 40 and older are recommended to get a CBE annually. Keep up with your monthly breast self-exam, get regular exercise, stay slim, stick to a healthy diet, and make smart lifestyle choices. Team up with your doctor for your best breast health.


Can Breast Cancer Be Found Early? American Cancer Society. Last Revised: 09/18/2009

Understanding Breast Changes: A Health Guide for Women. Check With Your Health Care Provider About Breast Changes. National Cancer Institute. Posted: 09/28/2009.

Clinical Breast Examination: Practical Recommendations for Optimizing Performance and Reporting. Debbie Saslow, PhD, Judy Hannan, RN, MPH, Janet Osuch, MD, MS, et al. CA Cancer J Clin 2004; 54:327-344.

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