Word on Health

Word on Checking Your Breasts

Our grateful thanks to the Breast Cancer Now charity for bringing this story to our attention, for their contribution to our radio report  (which you can hear again further down this page) and for the use of the information below taken from their website, which you can visit here.  If you're worried about breast health or breast cancer you can speak to one of Breast Cancer Now's excellent nurses for free by calling 0808 800 6000.

Breast cancer will affect 1 in 7 women and  can cause a number of signs and symptoms.

Regularly checking the breasts and attending breast screening when invited (all women over the age of 50 up to the age of 71 are invited every 3 years) is really important.

Advances in the treatment of breast cancer means that its more possible today than ever before for a successful outcome - but early diagnosis is key.   

See your GP if you notice a change to your breast that’s new or unusual for you.  In many instances what you find that isn't normal for you, won't be breast cancer, but you should always get any concern checked out by your GP.   

Signs and symptoms of breast cancer include: 

  • A lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit
  • A change to the skin, such as puckering or dimpling
  • A change in the colour of the breast – the breast may look red or inflamed
  • A nipple change, for example it has become pulled in (inverted)
  • Rash or crusting around the nipple
  • Unusual liquid (discharge) from either nipple
  • Changes in size or shape of the breast
  • On its own, pain in your breasts is not usually a sign of breast cancer. But look out for pain in your breast or armpit that’s there all or almost all the time.

Although rare, men can get breast cancer. The most common symptom of breast cancer in men is a lump in the chest area.

See your GP if you notice a change.

As highlighted earlier most breast changes, including breast lumps, are not cancer. But the sooner breast cancer is found, the more successful treatment is likely to be.   Get any new or unusual changes checked by a GP. 

How to check your breasts

There’s no special way to check your breasts and you do not need any training. 

Checking your breasts is as easy as TLC (Touch, Look, Check).

  • Touch your breasts: can you feel anything new or unusual?
  • Look for changes: does anything look different to you?
  • Check any new or unusual changes with a GP

Everyone will have their own way of touching and looking for changes. 

Get used to checking regularly and be aware of anything that’s new or different for you.

Check your whole breast area, including up to your collarbone (upper chest) and armpits.

What will happen when I see my GP?

Due to the coronavirus pandemic your appointment may be over the phone.

If your appointment is in person, your GP will examine your breasts.

After speaking to you on the phone, or examining your breasts, your GP may:

  • Decide there’s no need for further investigation
  • Ask to see you again after a short time 
  • Refer you to a breast clinic

Being referred to a breast clinic does not mean you have breast cancer, just that further assessment is needed to find out what is going on. 

If your GP is male and you do not feel comfortable going to see him, ask if there’s a female doctor or practice nurse available. 

You can also ask for a female nurse or member of staff to be present during your examination, or you can take a friend or relative with you, but check first if you are able to do this.

If you're worried about breast health, breast screening or breast cancer you can speak to a Breast Cancer Now nurse for free by calling 0808 800 6000. 

Listen to this weeks radio report

All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.