Post Mastectomy Self-Exam

It is important to perform a complete post mastectomy self-exam once a month, including an exam of the mastectomy site and surrounding area. Pre-menopausal women should check seven to ten days after the first day of the menstrual period. Post menopausal women and those no longer having periods can perform the exam at any time, as long as it is at the same time each month.

Post Mastectomy Self-Exam Step 1
First, stand in front of a well-lit mirror. Look at your chest, mastectomy site and underarm in the mirror. You will be looking for a persistent rash or irritation, swelling, lumps (note size), skin thickening, redness or color change.
Post Mastectomy Self-Exam Step 2
The following steps may be done in the shower or bath with soap on your hands, or you may use lotion out of the bath. Check the surgical scar by putting two fingers together and pressing firmly over the entire scar using a small circular motion. The scar should be well-healed, clear and unchanged.
Post Mastectomy Self-Exam Step 3
Check the chest wall from the collar bone, rub down firmly on the skin with a flat hand. Sweep down over the entire chest wall to the bottom of the ribs.
Post Mastectomy Self-Exam Step 4
Place three or four fingers together and press against your skin using a sweeping motion across the chest from the middle of the body to the outer chest. Feel between the ribs for any swelling or lumps. Overlap the area when lifting your fingers to return to the middle to sweep again.
Post Mastectomy Self-Exam Step 5
Check above and below the collar bone, feeling for any pea- or bean-sized lumps or thickening.
Post Mastectomy Self-Exam Step 6
Check under your arm while relaxing your arm at your side. Reach across with your other hand to feel the area. Check deeply up and down the inside of the armpit and up and forward toward your chest. You will be feeling for any new or unusual swelling, lumps, thickening, rash, bumps or soreness.

A regular breast self-exam for the remaining breast should also be done at this time. Follow the steps in the Breast Exam brochure.It is important to maintain regularly scheduled appointments with your physician and report any changes to your physician. Follow the recommended breast screening guidelines as listed in the Breast Exam brochure.