Clinical Breast Examination
The Clinical Breast Examination (CBE) is performed by one of our physicians. The physician will visually examine your breasts, comparing them to each other, for differences in size or shape, skin changes, (such as a rash, dimpling, texture or color change) and any scaling or retraction of the nipples. Then your breasts will be palpated (felt) with you lying down. During this part of the examination, they will be checking for any masses, enlarged lymph nodes under the arm, any nipple discharge or areas that are painful to you. Your neck and collarbone areas will also be checked for enlarged lymph nodes.
During the CBE your physician will be able to tell a lot about a mass by feeling it and the surrounding tissues. A mass that is soft, smooth, round and easily moved is more likely to be benign. A mass that is hard, irregularly shaped and non-movable is more suspicious for cancer.
The percentage of breast cancers that can be felt but are not identified by a mammogram can be as high as 20%. But when Clinical Breast Examination and Breast Self-Examination are used together with mammography, more than 90% of all breast cancers can be detected. CBE can also identify other benign breast problems that need further evaluation and treatment.
You should expect your physician to discuss their findings and recommend treatment or other follow-up plans based on those findings. Ask questions and be certain you understand exactly what he is recommending before you leave the clinic.