Being Breast Aware

Breast awareness

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in females with approximately 1,000 women diagnosed and 300 women who lose their lives to the disease each year in Northern Ireland. The most effective proven method to reduce deaths from breast cancer is through regular screening of women at risk, but being breast aware is also vitally important.

Being breast aware

Being breast aware means knowing what your breasts look like and how they feel. If you know what is normal for you, it will be easy to detect a change. Most breast changes will be harmless but if you’re concerned it’s a good idea to see your doctor for proper advice.

When to check

It is advised that you should check your breasts once a month:

  • The best time to check is usually about a week after your monthly period
  • If you no longer have a monthly period, check on the first day of the month
  • If you are breast feeding check once a month, just after a feed

How to check

You might like to check in the bath or shower with soapy hands so that you become familiar with your breasts:

  • Look in the mirror with arms at your side
  • Raise arms above your head and look again
  • Lean forward with hands on your hips and look again for any new change in the shape of your breasts
  • With soapy hands you can easily check one breast at a time
  • Use the right hand to check the left breast and the left hand to check the right breast
  • Keep your fingers together and use them to slide over the whole of each breast and up under the armpit
  • You don’t need to squeeze or poke at your breasts too hard; firm flat pressure is best

What to look out for

Being breast aware makes it easier for you to spot new changes such as:

  • Change in the shape or size of your breast
  • A lump or thickness in the breast or under the armpit
  • Change in the skin – any dimpling, puckering or redness
  • Nipple discharge – bleeding or any heavy discharge
  • Change in the position of a nipple – pulled inwards or pointing in a different direction
  • Rash on the nipple
  • Veins that stand out more than normal in one of your breasts
  • A pain or odd sensation that is not normal for you


View our breast awareness video below:

For more information click here to download our breast awareness and screening Z-card.

We also have developed a “Breast Aware” app which you may find helpful, click here to find out more.