1. The relationship of symptoms to the menstrual cycles, the timing of onset of breast lumps and their subsequent course, the color and location of nipple discharge, and hormone use should be assessed.

2. Risk factors for breast cancer should be determined, including menarche before age 12 years, first live birth at age >30 years, and menopause at age >55 years; the number of previous breast biopsies, the presence of atypical ductal hyperplasia on biopsy, obesity, nulliparity, increased age, the amount of alcohol consumed, and the number and ages of first-degree family members with breast cancer with two such relatives with breast cancer at any early age should be determined.

B. Physical examination. The examination is performed when the breasts are least stimulated, seven to nine days after the onset of menses. The four breast quadrants, subareolar areas, and the axillae should be systematically examined with the woman both lying and sitting with her hands on her hips.

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