Women who examine their breasts become more aware of how their breasts normally feel – the NHS calls this being "breast aware". They are more likely to notice changes – including masses or lumps – that could be early signs of cancer. Be aware that the feel and appearance of the breasts can change at different times of the menstrual cycle.
If you see or feel a change in your breasts, seek medical advice sooner rather than later. But remember, most of the time, breast changes are not cancer.
Using a mirror, inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides, with your hands on your hips, and with your arms raised while flexing your chest muscles.
Look for any changes in contour, swelling, dimpling of skin or appearance of the nipple. It is normal if your right and left breasts do not match exactly.
Using the pads of your fingers, press firmly on your breast, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Move around your breast in a circular, up-and-down or wedge pattern. Remember to use the same method every time. Check both breasts.
Gently squeeze the nipple of each breast and if you notice any discharge seek medical advice promptly.
Examine both breasts lying down. To examine the right breast, place a pillow under your right shoulder and place your right hand behind your head. Using the pads of your fingers, press firmly, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Use the same pattern you used while standing. Repeat for your left breast.
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general information purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the BootsWebMD Site. If you have a medical problem please contact your GP. In England call 111. In Scotland call NHS 24. In Wales, call NHS Direct Wales. In the case of medical emergencies, always dial 999.
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