PUBLISHED ON: 11 September 2013

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October when the media focus gives us a great chance to remind people about the importance of being breast aware.

Breast awareness is vital to women of any age because although survival rates for breast cancer are improving the number of people being diagnosed is going up – nearly 55000 people in the UK every year with around 400 cases in men. And if you do find a change in your breast that turns out to be cancer the sooner it’s diagnosed the more effective the treatment is likely to be.

Part of your body care routine

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK – with the biggest risk factors being over 50 and being a woman – so breast awareness should be a regular part of body care. It means getting to know how your breasts look and feel so you know what’s normal for you. Then you’ll be more confident about noticing any unusual changes and seeing your GP (local doctor).

Remember most changes won’t turn out to be breast cancer.

How do I check my breasts?

Try to get used to looking at and feeling your breasts regularly. There’s no right or wrong way to do it and no need to alter your body care routine: for instance you can check your breasts while you’re in the bath or shower when you use body lotion or when you get dressed. Do what’s comfortable for you and suits you best.

You should check all parts of your breast your armpits and up to your collarbone.

Changes to look and feel for

Everyone is different and our breasts change throughout our lives because of varying hormone levels in our bodies. So when you check your breasts look out for changes from what is normal for you.

Our free handy-sized booklet Taking care of your breasts shows examples of what such breast changes could be. You can order as many copies as you like for yourself family friends and colleagues.

What to do next

If you spot any changes that are unusual for you see your GP as soon as you can. Don't worry about making a fuss and remember that most breast changes will turn out to be normal or because of a benign (not cancer) breast condition.

Your GP may be able to reassure you after examining your breasts or might ask you to come back at a different time in your menstrual cycle if you’re still having periods. Otherwise you might be referred to a breast clinic for a more detailed examination and assessment.

We're here to help you

If you have any breast health or breast cancer questions or concerns you can call the free confidential Helpline on 0808 800 6000.

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