How to check for the signs and symptoms of breast cancer

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime but more than 50% of women say they don't know the early signs of the disease.

Dr Hilary Jones shares his step-by-step guide to checking your breasts. It could save your life in the time it takes to get changed.

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The signs and symptoms you're looking for are:- Visible changes in shape or size.- Skin changes such as; dimpling, puckering or rash around the nipple.- Lumps or bumps.- Bloody discharge from the nipple.

How to check:

  • Sit comfortably in front of a mirror with hands on your hips so chest muscles are relaxed.

  • Firstly, look at the contour of the breast to check that it matches on each side and see if there is any puckering or dimpling.

  • Look for any change in the nipple such as a rash, indrawing or pulling in.

  • Look for any skin change all around the nipple.

  • Using the fingers of your left hand to examine the right breast, walk your middle three fingers around the breast. You're feeling for any abnormal lumps or bumps or any irregularity that hasn't been there before.

  • Divide the breast into four quarters.

  • Start on the inner upper quarter, walking those fingers around the breast.

  • Do the same on the lower inner quarter and then across to the lower right quarter and then the upper right quarter.

  • Walk fingers up to the tail of the breast in the armpit.

  • Walk your fingers back to the areola around the nipple.

  • Repeat steps above on the left breast, using your right hand to do so.

Dr Hilary advises that menstruating women check their breasts following their period each month. For menopausal and post-menopausal women, pick a date each month that suits you.

If you notice anything unusual, see your doctor or nurse as soon as possible. Early diagnosis could mean a better chance of successful treatment.

For more information about breast cancer, use our helplines below:

NHS – Cancer of the BreastBreast Awareness. Checking your breasts regularly can help you know when something’s wrong. Make sure you’re aware what signs to look for, and, when to see a doctor.Breast cancer in womenBreast cancer in menMastectomyReconstructionIntroduction and information on Cancer of the breast in women and men from NHS including causes, symptoms, diagnosis, risks and treatment and with links to other useful websites.

Coppafeelwww.coppafeel.orgBreast cancer awareness charity aimed at young people to promote early detection through educating about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.We exist to educate and remind every 18-30 year old in the UK that checking their boobs isn't only fun, it could save their life.

Breast Cancer CareHelpline: 0808 800 6000www.breastcancercare.org.uk Offers information and support to women and men who have or fear they may have breast cancer, and their families and friends. A range of publications including booklets and factsheets on all aspects of breast cancer are available free on the website, as well as a free confidential helpline run by specially trained nurses.

Macmillan Cancer SupportHelpline: 0808 808 0000Understanding Breast CancerBreast Cancer in menTypes of surgeryBreast reconstructionMacmillan Cancer Support improves the lives of people affected by cancer. We provide practical, medical and financial support and push for better cancer care. Cancer affects us all. We can all help.

Cancer Help UKHelpline: 0808 800 4040Breast CancerMale Breast CancerSurgery to remove your breastBreast ReconstructionCancerHelp UK is a free information service about cancer and cancer care for people with cancer and their families.

The National Hereditary Breast & Ovarian Cancer HelplineHelpline: 01629 813000 (available 24 hours)www.breastcancergenetics.co.ukProvides help and information for those concerned about their family history of breast and ovarian cancer, and also has a useful database of women prepared to share their own experiences with others.

Prevent Breast Cancerwww.preventbreastcancer.org.ukAwareness & Information VideosWe Predict – by identifying who is at risk of breast cancer. We Prevent – by offering preventative interventions, to stop breast cancer before it starts. We Protect – by shielding future generations from breast cancer. We are the only UK breast cancer charity funding ground-breaking research solely aimed at preventing the disease for future generations. Our research will one day bring about a world where breast cancer is preventable and thousands of lives are saved from ever experiencing this terrible disease.