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Video

Dr Dawn:

One in nine women will get breast cancer at some time in their life, but despite this over a third of women in the UK don’t self-examine. If you don’t check your breasts regularly, or you’re not sure how to, keep watching. Early diagnosis really can be lifesaving.

Women’s breasts change shape, size and sensitivity throughout their lifetime but they also change during the monthly menstrual cycle so it’s a good idea to self-examine your breasts at the same time of the month, every month; that way you know you’re comparing like for like, and a good time is about one week after the end of your period.

Standing in front of the mirror, raise both your arms in the air. All breasts are naturally asymmetrical but you’re looking for any physical changes, any difference in size, has one got larger or lower? Look at the nipple, does it look any different? Has it inverted or changed position or shape? Is there any sign of a rash or a discharge? And check the skin for puckering or dimpling, and for any swelling in the breast tissue.

Now put your hands on the hips and push in so that you tense the muscle underneath and look again. You’re doing the same checks just to make sure.

You also need to be aware of how your breasts feel. Is there any continuous pain or discomfort in the breasts, or under the arms? So everything feels and looks OK? Good.

Self examination of the breasts can be done standing up or lying down. We’re going to start with the left breast and you need to imagine the face of a clock on your breast, so this is twelve o’clock, three, six and nine. Starting at twelve o’clock, using three or four fingers in the flat of your hand, you just need to roll the breast tissue in a circular motion over itself all the way around the breast, checking for lumps until you get to the top. When you’re back at the top move your hand in closer and repeat the cycle, checking for any unusual lumps, bumps or even thickening of the tissue. You keep going right the way round moving further in each time until you get to the nipple. Would you like to take over?

You don’t have to imagine a clock: you can use any basic sweeping method across the breast, just make sure you cover the whole breast. So once you’ve done the main breast area, examine the armpit because breast tissue is up under here too and then check the nipple for discharge by gently squeezing the twelve o’clock and six o’clock, and three o’clock and nine o’clock positions…

And it all seems fine. So you can check the other one. If there are any guys watching this, you should also self-examine because men have breast tissue too. In fact, each year around 290 men get diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK. Unfortunately half don’t survive because it wasn’t diagnosed and treated quickly enough.
If you do discover a lump or any other symptom, make an appointment to see your doctor straight away. Don’t panic, nine out of ten breast lumps that are referred to a breast specialist turn out to be benign but it is important that they are checked out, if it is cancer, early detection can stop it spreading. Breast cancer can be a killer, so female or male, make sure you check yours once a month.

Read the video transcript

How To Check Your Breasts

1 in 8 women will get breast cancer at some point in their lives, and at least a third of women will not self-check their breasts. Early diagnosis is essential in treating breast cancer, and that’s where monthly self-checks come in. If you’re not sure where to start – don’t worry! Dr Dawn Harper’s guide will give you advice on exactly how to self-check your boobs.

As Simple as TLC...

Breakthrough Breast Cancer advocate a simple TLC method that will help you spot abnormalities as early as possible.

TOUCH your breasts. Can you feel anything unusual?
LOOK for changes. Is there any change in shape or texture?
CHECK anything unusual with your doctor.

No one knows your body better than you and everyone will have their own way of touching and looking for changes – there’s no special technique and you don’t need any training. It’s good to get into the habit of doing this regularly – maybe when you’re in the bath or shower, or while getting dressed in the morning. You might prefer to do it while standing up or lying down. Either way, the important thing is to be familiar with how your breasts look and feel normally, so you notice anything unusual – and remember to check the whole breast area, including your upper chest and armpits.

Find out more about the TLC method on the Breakthrough Breast Cancer website >

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Comments and Questions

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Please note: Unfortunately Channel 4 cannot respond to individual inquiries. If you have any concerns, you can check out NHS Choices, but ultimately it is always best to check with a health professional.

I have a vertical indented line about an inch and a half long running down my right breast, it isn't in the nipple area and not what I would call dimpled, more like a stretch mark?? Any ideas?





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I AM ALWAYS EXAMINING MY BREASTS, AND THEN SUDDENLY OUT THE BLUE OVER NIGHT I FELT A HARD LUMPY MASS ALONG THE OUTLINE OF MY LEFT BREAST JUST ABOVE RIBS, BUT IN THE BREAST. THIS SEEMED SO SUDDEN! BUT ITS SORE- ANY IDEA WHATS CAUSED IT.





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Im 24 and my left breast is changed in shape And even sometimes i feel pain also and i feel something small but round is there but i read about breast cancers and they have told that there will be no pain is this rigth?!





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This seems to me completely normal. All women get sensitive breasts from time to time. Also some women naturally have lumpy breasts. Try not to worry. Speak to a female relative or a doctor and you will realise that its probably nothing to worry about.

Im sorry I meant to reply to the comment below!

So I am like about an A34in bras so I'm practically flat but I have little hard balls in my nipples and they hurt when they get touched and I am only twelve but they are sore and it hurts realy bad when I touch it or I hit it on like my bed or a table what should I do about this it hurts right now.





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This seems to me completely normal. All women get sensitive breasts from time to time. Also some women naturally have lumpy breasts. Try not to worry. Speak to a female relative or a doctor and you will realise that its probably nothing to worry about.

hi.. i feel there's a small lump on my right breast and it's painful when i pressed it. with shoulder and back pain too..i feel like there's a little lump..is it a sign of breast cancer?





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my left breast has no feeling when i pinch it i cant really feel it but my right one is judt fine they are soar maybe from me having a sighter bra but this has been going on for years and seems to have gotten worse i just pinched the skin and i didnt really feel anything did the same to the right and it hurt could this be the start of cancer or something else





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Hi, I'm 27 years old. My left breast larger than my right breast, and I have problem right here that I had to use to it. I thinking of my breasts skin is allergy to my bra. When I wear a bra both my twins extremely itch, problem solve when I am braless. Further more whenever I try to squeeze my nipples there will be white discharge oozing out and my left breast white discharge more than my right breast. It's happen randomly at the beginning, but 2 years back it getting itchy more frequently and I have to squeeze hard to release this white discharge. Sometimes this happened before periods, Sometimes after periods. Is this normal? Or it's a sign of cancer?





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I am male in my early 50s i discovered a lump in my breast about a week ago. It feels elongated not circular . It doesn't hurt when i touch it but, there seems to be pain around the are a bit later .'What do I do? Is there any chance it might go away ? Are there any drugs or foods that might shrink it?





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I've had a lump in my left breast for years now, I'm not sure what it is but it only hurts when I squeeze it at little, I'm even too embarrassed to go see a doctor what do I do?





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Hi I've had a wired lump for two years on my right breast and going under my armpit, I was to scared to see the doctor as well but I have been and I'm getting treatment on Thursday for it where I will also find out if it's cancerous I'm sure it will be ok, just like yours, take care and go to the doctors please

My mother has started bleeding from nipples ....did all cancer tests all comes clear.....so wat can be this..I m very worried bout her..kindly give me some suggestions





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It looks like no one else has asked this question, so please fill in the rest of your details below.





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