Knowing your breasts and what is normal for you is one of the best ways to detect new breast changes. This is called being breast aware and it is key in identifying any changes in your breasts which could be worrying.

Any woman of any age can practise breast awareness. It simply involves knowing what your breasts look like and how they ordinarily feel so that you can easily identify any changes.

Make it part of your day when you are showering or getting dressed. If you still have your monthly periods, try to examine your breasts routinely in the same week of your monthly cycle, as the lumpiness in your breasts might change during your cycle. In general breasts are least lumpy in the time around your period. 

Be on the look out for these common symptoms:

  • a lump or thickening in the breast, especially if it’s only in one breast
  • changes in the size or shape of your breast
  • changes to the nipple, especially redness, bleeding or discharge
  • skin redness or a rash
  • a pain that doesn’t go away
  • lumps in your armpits and/or the triangle area above your collar bone

If you notice anything unusual consult your doctor straight away. 

Read more about the early detection of breast cancer on our mammograms page and if you're aged between 45 and 69 find out about the free mammogram screening programme run by BreastScreen Aotearoa.