Most cases of breast cancer are found by women noticing unusual changes, taking the initiative and visiting their doctor. The earlier breast cancer is found, the better the chance of beating it - so you can see how important it is to make regular checks.
Being breast aware simply means being on the lookout for any unusual changes and getting them checked out by your doctor.
Lumps are vital to look out for - but there can be other important signs too. And even if you do find a lump, in most cases, they turn out not to be cancerous.
It's as simple as TLC...
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 important to check the whole breast area, including your upper chest and armpits - try to get into the habit of doing it regularly, maybe in the bath or shower, or before getting dressed in the morning.
Can you feel a lump? Either in the breast, upper chest or armpits.
Is there a lumpy area? Or unusual thickening of the breast tissue that doesn't go away?
Is there any unusual pain? Either in part of the breast or the armpit.
Any change in size or shape? For example, one breast might become larger or lower than the other.
Any change in skin texture? Such as puckering or dimpling of the skin of the breast.
What about the appearance or direction of the nipple? For example, one might become inverted (turned in) when it normally points out.
Any unusual discharge? One or both nipples might have a discharge.
Any rash or crusting? Of the nipple or surrounding area.
Any change in colour? For example, the breast may look red or inflamed.
Is anything unusual? If so, get it checked out by your doctor as soon as possible.
You may normally feel breast tissue changes or pain before or during your periods. This is why it's important to check your breasts regularly so you get to know how they look and feel at different times of the month, and can notice any changes that are unusual for you.
Want to find out more?
There's plenty more information on our charity partners website at breakthrough.org.uk/tlc
You can also call the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Information Line for free on 08080 100 200