A clinical breast examination (CBE) is a physical examination of the breast done by a health professional. Clinical breast examinations are used along with mammograms to check women for breast cancer. Clinical breast examinations are also used to check for other breast problems.

A clinical breast examination may be part of your regular checkup. Talk with your health professional about how often you need a breast examination.

Women with breast implants should also have regular clinical breast examinations.

Why It Is Done

A clinical breast examination is done to:

Find a lump or change in the breast that may mean a serious problem is present, such as breast cancer. Check other breast problems that may need more treatment, such as mastitis or a fibroadenoma.

How To Prepare

Tell your health professional if you:

  • Have a new lump or change in your breasts. This includes a change in the way your nipples look or if you have any nipple discharge.
  • Some women have nipples that sink into the breast, called inverted nipples. For these women, this is normal. But if you do not have inverted nipples and notice a change where your nipple becomes inverted, tell your doctor.
  • Have pain in one breast, especially if the pain is not related to having your menstrual period.
  • Are or might be pregnant.
  • Are breastfeeding.
  • Have breast implants.
  • Have had a breast biopsy.
  • Have completed menopause.
  • Are taking hormone therapy.
  • Have a personal or family history of breast cancer.
  • You may want to have your examination 1 to 2 weeks after your menstrual period ends, if you are still menstruating; your breasts are less likely to be tender at that time.