How to check your breasts

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Breasts come in all shapes and sizes and will change throughout your life. Your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, age and weight may alter the size, shape and feel of your breasts. That’s why it’s important for you to become familiar with your breasts and check them regularly so that you know what’s normal and can report any changes to your GP. More than half of breast cancers in women are detected by women themselves and early detection of breast cancer can improve your chance of successful treatment.

IN THE SHOWER

Put your left hand behind your head and using the pads of your right fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the centre, checking the entire breast and armpit area for anything unusual. Then do this for your right side.

IN FRONT OF THE MIRROR

Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead. Look for any changes. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match – few women’s breasts do, so look for any changes, particularly on one side.

LYING DOWN

When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit. Use light, medium and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

Most breast changes are not due to breast cancer, however, if any of these symptoms are experienced it is important that they are discussed with your doctor.

Self-examination is not a substitute for regular mammogram screening. If you are over 40, please arrange to have a mammogram with Breast Screen WA every two years by calling 13 20 50.