Every woman is different and it’s best to get into the habit of examining yourself regularly so you can spot any changes
There is no evidence to suggest that a particular technique works best, but checking your breasts regularly is vital; the sooner breast cancer is diagnosed, the more effective treatment may be.
All breasts are different, so women are encouraged to get to know their own breasts over time. Follow this simple advice: touch, look and check (TLC). Some breasts have natural bumps or nodular breast tissue, and women often have one breast larger than the other. Changes can also occur to the breasts during women’s cycles.
There is no special training needed and no rule as to how often you should check. You could be in the shower or bath, or moisturizing your body or in bed – whenever you are relaxed. It is important to check all over the breast tissue, including the nipple area, up to the armpits and up to the collarbone.
Looking is useful, too. Is the nipple red? Is there discharge? Most nipple discharge is not caused by breast cancer, but you should tell your GP if it is new for you. If a lump is large, sometimes you can see it. Stand in front of the mirror with your hands on your hips and see if anything is distorting the breast. If there is a lump inside the breast, it can pull on the breast and cause an orange-peel appearance.
Most lumps, bumps and changes will not be breast cancer, but tell your GP if you find something that is unusual for you. It might be benign but need treatment and some women are prone to cysts.
Addie Mitchell is a clinical nurse specialist at the charity Breast Cancer Now
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