Being breast aware and self-examination
It's important to be "breast aware" and check your breasts regularly for changes. This is so you can identify any problems in your breasts. Any unusual changes to your breasts should be checked by your GP as soon as possible.
Coronavirus (COVID-10): impact on the breast cancer screening programme
Routine breast cancer screening was temporarily paused for four months in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of women the programme can currently screen is reduced due to the need for social distancing and appropriate infection control measures.
This has led to a backlog of women awaiting screening.
How to be breast aware
Breast awareness means knowing your breasts and being aware of what changes are normal for you.
You can become familiar with your breasts by regularly looking at, and feeling, them in any way that is best for you. Health professionals no longer recommend a set way to check your breasts. It’s important to feel all parts of your breasts including:
- your nipples
- in and around your armpits
Breast awareness five point code
- know what is normal for you
- know what changes to look and feel for
- look and feel
- report any changes to your GP immediately
- attend for breast screening from the age of 50
If you're over 50 and have attended your screening appointment, it will be three years until your next appointment. In this three-year period it's important you are "breast aware" and are able to self-examine your breasts.
When to see your GP
It is important you see your GP as soon as possible if you notice a change in your breasts.
Finding a change in your breast can be a worry.
Most changes are harmless but you should make an appointment to see your GP immediately.
Changes you should be looking for include:
- changes in appearance, size or outline of either breast, especially those caused by arm movement
- any puckering, dimpling or redness of the skin or veins that stand out more than usual
- pain or discomfort in one part of either breast or armpit, particularly if new and persistent
- any lumps or thickening in either breast that feels different from the other breast
- any swelling or lumps under your armpit or around your collarbone
- changes to your nipples, including nipples that have become pulled in, changed shape or show signs of discharge, bleeding, rash or crusted, flaky skin