Breast Awareness

Being breast aware

Breast awareness is about encouraging women to become more aware of their bodies generally and to get to know their own breasts. This is an important issue for all women in their mid-twenties and onwards, as learning how their breasts look and feel at different times will help women know what is normal for them and to recognise any irregular changes.

What should a breast look and feel like?

There is no such thing as a standard breast and what is normal for one woman may not be for another. One woman's breasts will also look and feel different over time depending on the time of the month and the age of the woman.

What about routine self examination?

The Department of Health's policy on breast awareness, which has strong support from the nursing and medical professions, encourages women to check their breasts for what is normal for them but does not recommend routine self examination to a set technique.

There is no scientific evidence to show that a formally taught, ritual self examination, performed at the same time each month, reduces the death rate from breast cancer or is more effective than a more relaxed breast awareness.

Are you being breast aware?

A 'Be Breast Aware' leaftlet, (including web based foreign language versions) produced by the NHS Breast Screening Programme and Cancer Research UK, sets out a five-point plan for women.

Be Breast Aware - 40Kb PDF
  • Know what is normal for you
  • Look and feel
  • Know what changes to look for
  • Report any changes without delay
  • Attend for breast screening if aged 50 or over