Being aware of your breasts is an important way of detecting breast cancer. You should try and become familiar with how your breasts look and feel and report any changes to your doctor. Breasts change at different times during the month and throughout your life. Your breasts can be affected by age, pregnancy, the menopause and the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
It is important to take time to learn what feels normal for you. This will allow you to be aware of any changes.
A good time to check your breasts is in the bath or shower or when you are lying on the bed. A soapy hand or one sprinkled with talc or moisturiser will move over your breast more easily. Women with large breasts may find it easier to examine them when lying down.
Checking your breasts
- Look at your breast in a mirror, check the skin of your breasts for dimples or puckering.
- Check your nipples for changes such as if one is pulled in or has changed direction.
- Using your hand, check for lumps or swelling in your breast that feels different from the rest of your breast tissue.
- Check for lumps and swelling in the area surrounding your breast, including your arm, armpit or around your collarbone.
If you notice any change that is unusual for you, consult your GP or practice nurse for advice.
Your GP, nurse or local well-woman clinic will also be able to tell you more about examining your breasts.