How to perform a breast check

Being conscious of how your breasts look and feel and regularly checking them is vital. Being breast aware is part of maintaining your healthy lifestyle.

How should I check my breasts?

Although there is no right or wrong way to check your breast, it’s important to know how your breasts usually look and feel. That way, you can spot any changes quickly and get checked by a professional.

If you still have regular monthly periods, you should examine yourself just after your period stops, that’s the time of the month when the breasts are least tender and least lumpy. It is normal in the days before your period that your breasts feel tender, lumpy, and swollen. Providing that settles over the next week there is nothing at all to worry about. Any symptoms that fail to resolve need to be reviewed by our breast experts.

What should you look for?

It’s not just lumps that you should be checking for. There are several other indicators of breast cancer that you can look out for too. Get in touch with your doctor if you notice one or a combination of the following changes in your breast:

  • Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
  • Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling
  • Any nipple changes including inversion (pulling in)
  • Clear or bloody fluid leaking from the nipple

How to perform a breast check

Step 1 - Look

Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.

The breasts should be their usual size, shape and colour, with no nipple discharge visible (there's no need to squeeze to check).

Raise your arms and look for any indrawing, dimpling or discolouration of the skin on the breast

Step 2 - Feel

Either lying down or in the shower when warm, whichever is more comfortable for you, use your right hand for your left breast and your left hand for the right side.

Use a firm, smooth touch with the first three finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion, about the size of a 2p coin. Check the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side — from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.

Step 3 – Repeat

You should repeat the above steps on roughly the same date every month.

What should I do if I find changes in my breasts?

Don't panic.

Most lumps found in the breast are benign or nothing at all to worry about. All breasts feel different and are naturally lumpy.

It is essential that any new changes to the breast are investigated by a breast specialist.

Our rapid diagnostic breast clinic in Nuffield Health at St Bartholomew’s Hospital offers the very best investigation and treatment for new breast changes. We offer consultation and any imaging on the same visit to ensure a fast and accurate diagnosis within a specialist breast team. Contact the team below to make an appointment without delay

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