A breast exam is a method used in the attempt to find any possible early cancer. Any lumps, distortion, swelling or even hot spots of the skin, may be checked and make sure a woman is as healthy as possible.
Breast self-examination (BSE) is a screening method used in an attempt to detect early breast cancer. The method involves the woman herself looking at and feeling each breast for possible lumps, distortions or swelling. BSE was once promoted heavily as a means of finding cancer at a more curable stage, but large randomized controlled studies found that it was not effective in preventing death, and actually caused harm through needless biopsies and surgery. The World Health Organization, the US National Cancer Institute, the US Preventive Services Task Force, the Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care, and many other scientific organizations recommend against the use of breast self-examinations. Breast awareness is an informal alternative to structured breast self-examinations.