What is included in the physical exam of breast disorders?

Updated: May 03, 2021
  • Author: Harsh Grewal, MD, FACS, FAAP; Chief Editor: Robert K Minkes, MD, PhD  more...
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Perform a complete and thorough examination of both breasts to evaluate for masses and nipple discharge. Characterize breast masses according to the following characteristics:

  • Size
  • Contour (ie, smooth vs irregular)
  • Overlying skin changes (eg, dimpling, edema)
  • Fixation

Examine the lymphatic basins of the breast (ie, axillary, infraclavicular, supraclavicular areas) for enlarged lymph nodes.

Adolescents who carry BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations should begin routine office visits at age 20 years to undergo clinical breast examination and to receive information regarding their risk of developing breast cancer. [23] However, the American Society of Clinical Oncology discourages genetic testing for BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations in children and adolescents because of a lack of timely medical benefit and due to psychosocial risks in this population.

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