How to spot the possible signs of breast cancer

Women over the age of 50 should make sure they attend breast screenings, cancer charities advise. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Angelina Jolie's revelation that she underwent a preventative double mastectomy after discovering she is a carrier of the BRCA1 gene has highlighted the issue of breast cancer and its cost.

Breast cancer charities warn that all women should be "breast aware", as most cases are diagnosed after a woman notices a change in her breast and visits their doctor to have it checked out.

The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed the better the chance you have of beating it, so being "breast aware" - knowing what your breasts feel like normally and regularly checking for any change - is important.

How to check your breasts - think TLC:

  • Touch your breasts - does anything feel unusual?

  • Look for changes - are there any changes in shape or texture?

  • Check anything unusual with your doctor

Source: Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

Changes to look for:

  • Lump - it might not be seen but can be felt in the breast or under the armpit

  • Skin texture - dimpling or puckering of the skin

  • Nipple appearance - one that usually points out may become inverted (turned in)

  • Nipple discharge - one or both nipples might have a discharge or bleed

  • Rash or crusting - on the nipple or surrounding area

  • Size or shape - one breast may become larger or lower than the other

  • Pain - you may experience pain in the breast or armpit

Source: Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer Campaign.

Women over the age of 50 are also advised by breast cancer charities to make sure they attend routine breast cancer screening.

Although it is rare, men can also get breast cancer. Around 340 men are diagnosed in the UK each year.

Men should look for:

  • Lumps - swelling or painless lumps in breast tissue often towards the nipple

  • Nipples - tenderness, one may become inverted or produce discharge

  • Swelling - underneath the armpits

Source: Breast Cancer Campaign.

What to do if you find anything unusual:

Go to your GP and have it checked out as soon as possible.

Remember - not all lumps are cancerous. They could be benign cysts or an overgrowth of tissue, but it is still important to report any changes to your GP.

You can call Breast Cancer Care's helpline on 0808 800 6000 if you have any questions about breast cancer and breast health.

Breakthrough also offers a free breast check app that can be downloaded on iPhone or Android.