How to check your breasts – everything you need to know
One of the most important health decisions you can make for yourself is committing to understanding your breast health and regularly checking your breasts.
Taking ownership of your own breast health (and sharing that knowledge with others) is one of the most powerful steps you can take to equip yourself with the skills you need to keep yourself healthy.
Breast cancer affects people of all ages, so it’s important that you check your breasts regularly – to know what normal feels like for you, and to pick up any changes that may occur.
To get yourself started, here are some tips:
1. How do I check my breasts?
There’s no right or wrong way to check your breasts!
The best way to get started, is to get familiar with them – this is no time to be shy! Get to know how your breasts look and feel – look at them in the mirror, feel them standing up, lying down and with your arms above your head.
Look at the shape and appearance of your breasts and nipples in the mirror with your arms by your side. Raise your arms above your head and have another look.. Feel all of your breasts and nipples, from the collarbone to below the bra-line, and under the armpit too.
Once you get to know your breasts, you’ll be better equipped to recognise any changes.
A good tip to keep in mind is to check your breasts at the same time every month.
But so long as you’re checking consistently, you’re on the right track.
2. What sort of changes am I looking out for?
Changes may occur in the breasts for many reasons, and in many different ways. These can include:
- A general change in size or shape.
- A lump or lumpiness, or even a change in appearance of your breast (such as dimpling redness and appearance of veins).
- An area that feels different to the rest of your breast.
- Any pain in your breast that is not usually present.
- Any change in the shape or appearance of your nipple, such as your nipple being pulled in or development of a rash.
- A discharge from your nipple, particularly if it's bloody.
- A swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone.
3. What do I do if I find a lump or unusual change?
First of all, don’t panic! Most changes in the breast are not related to breast cancer, but if you find a lump, or notice a change in your breast, it’s important to visit your GP. Remember, the sooner you see your GP after finding a change in your breast, the better. Your GP will conduct a clinical breast examination to let you know if further testing is needed.