The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of successful treatment. So it’s important to check your breasts regularly and see your doctor if you notice a change.
Common breast cancer signs and symptoms include:
- A lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit – you might feel the lump but not see it
- A change to the skin, such as puckering or dimpling
- A change in the color of the breast – the breast may look red or inflamed
- A change to the nipple, for example it has become pulled in (inverted)
- Rash or crusting around the nipple
- Any unusual liquid (discharge) from either nipple
- Changes in size or shape of the breast
On its own, pain in your breasts is not usually a sign of breast cancer. But look out for pain that’s there all or most of the time.
Noticing an unusual change doesn’t necessarily mean you have breast cancer, and most breast changes are not because of cancer. But it’s important to get checked by your doctor.
Men can also develop breast cancer but it is very rare.
How to check your breasts
Checking your breasts only takes a few minutes. There’s no special technique and you don’t need training to check your breasts.
Check the whole breast area, including your upper chest and armpits.
Do this regularly to check for changes.
It’s as simple as TLC: Touch Look Check
- Touch your breasts: can you feel anything unusual?
- Look for changes: does anything look different?
- Check any changes with your doctor
Have you felt or seen anything unusual? If so, make sure you get checked out by your doctor as soon as possible.
If your doctor thinks you need any further testing, they will refer you to a breast clinic to see a specialist. Find out more about being referred to a breast clinic.
What will happen when I see my doctor?
See your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any unusual changes in your breast.
Your doctor will examine your breasts.
After examining your breasts, your doctor may:
- feel that there’s no need for further investigation
- ask to see you again after a short time
- refer you to a breast clinic
Being referred to a breast clinic doesn’t necessarily mean that you have breast cancer. It just means that more tests are needed to find out what’s going on.
If your doctor is male and you don’t feel comfortable going to see him, ask if there’s a female doctor available. You can also ask for a female nurse or member of staff to be present during your examination, or you can take a friend or relative with you.