2. Know your breasts from 20


While a mammogram is the best way to detect breast cancer early, it’s important for all women to be ‘breast aware’ from age 20 and maintain a self-checking routine before they start regular mammograms. It's important to know how your breasts normally look and feel so you're more aware of changes.

Breast changes to see your family doctor about are:
• A new lump or thickening, especially if it is only in one breast
• A breast pain that is unusual
• A change in breast shape or size
• A change in the skin of the breast such as:
o Puckering or dimpling
o Reddening or a rash
• Any change in a nipple, such as:
o A turned-in nipple
o A discharge that occurs without squeezing
o Crusting, ulcer or redness

Remember:
- You are looking and feeling for any new or unusual change - a change that is different, not normal for you
- Discuss any concerns you have about your breasts with your family doctor without delay
- Nine out of 10 lumps are not cancerous (benign); only one in 10 lumps is cancerous

What a lump may feel like
Lumps can feel hard and irregular, or they can feel smooth. A suspicious lump is usually hard and irregular in shape – a bit like a raisin. It may be attached to the surrounding tissue or skin, so it doesn’t move around easily. A non-cancerous lump feels more like a grape (smooth edges and more rounded); however, if you find any unusual lumps get them checked by your family doctor without delay.

Be Breast Aware
The Foundation recommends women carry out breast self-checks from age 20. Women who carry out regular breast self-checks become aware of what their  breasts normally look and feel like, and are more likely to notice unusual changes.   Good places to check your breasts are:
- In front of a mirror
- In the shower or bath

In front of a mirror
(a) Place your hands at your sides and look for any changes
(b) Place your hands on your hips and then press your shoulders and elbows forward - look for changes
(c) Raise your arms and clasp your hands above your head - look for changes

In the shower or bath
With the fingertips of your three middle fingers, use soap to glide over each breast. The way you check your breasts does not matter; there isn’t a right or wrong way. For more information please read our Position Statement on Breast Awareness (PDF, 228Kb). The main thing is to cover your entire breast tissue, from just below your collarbone to under your breast, and from your mid-chest to your ribs at the side of your chest. Also, with each arm by your side, press your fingers firmly up into each armpit. Breast self checks may make some women feel very anxious, while others will feel reassured; they are - very much - a personal choice.

-