Checking your breasts

Like other cancers, breast cancer is most easily treated when found early. Checking your breasts regularly helps you spot any changes quickly. There are a few breast changes to look out for including lumps, a change in size or appearance of your breast or nipples, and nipple discharge

What to check for

Every woman’s breasts are different in terms of size, shape and feel and one breast can be larger than the other so it’s important to know what’s normal for you.

When you check is up to you, but many people find it easiest to do this in the shower or bath. Get used to how your breasts feel at different times of the month because this can change during your menstrual cycle.

The TLC method makes it easy to remember- touch, look, check. Touch your breasts – can you feel anything unusual? Look at your breasts – are there any changes to shape or texture? Check anything unusual with your doctor.

If you notice changes in your breast that aren’t normal for you, see your GP as soon as you can. Breast changes can happen for many reasons and most aren’t serious. However, it is important to rule out breast cancer as early as possible.

How to check

Depending on the time of the month, and your menstrual cycle, you may notice changes to the breast that are normal for you. However, if you notice any of the following, it’s important to see your GP as soon as you can:

  • Any lumps or areas which feel thicker than the rest of the breast
  • Any lumps or swellings in either armpit
  • Nipple discharge (which may be streaked with blood)
  • A change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  • Dimpling on the skin of your breasts
  • Rash on or around your nipples
  • Change in your nipple’s appearance – for example, becoming sunken into your breast
  • Persistent pain in your breasts or armpits

You may find the diagram below useful too – reproduced with kind permission from Breast Cancer Care.


It’s worth remembering that every woman’s breasts are different in terms of size, shape and feel, and one breast can be larger than the other. This can change with the time of the month or with the menopause.

For example, some women have tender and lumpy breasts, especially near the armpit, around the time of their period. After the menopause, normal breasts feel softer, less firm and not as lumpy.

Useful links

For more information on what to look for, visit:

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