PUBLISHED ON: 26 October 2020

Our recent survey reveals that 47% of women in the UK do not check their breasts regularly. We explain why it’s important to check for signs of breast cancer.

Women are ‘forgetting’ to check their breasts

Almost half (47%) of women in the UK do not check their breasts regularly for potential signs of breast cancer.

According to a YouGov survey commissioned by Breast Cancer Now, one in 10 women have ‘never checked their breasts for new or unusual changes’. Meanwhile, a fifth (19%) of women check their breasts ‘once every six months or less’, while 13% do this ‘once a year or less’.

Asked what stops or prevents them from checking their breasts more regularly, almost half (46%) of women said they ‘forget’. This is concerning when most cases of the disease are detected because women have spotted new or unusual changes to their breasts.

Amaya during treatment

I never really checked my breasts growing up

Amaya is a mum of three and nurse from Birmingham who was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2019. She also tested positive for the faulty BRCA1 gene

‘I’m embarrassed to say that growing up, I never really checked my breasts regularly. I had a healthy diet, exercised and just assumed I was too young to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

‘In July 2019, whilst moisturising after a bath I found a lump in my right breast very close to my armpit. I didn’t feel worried at the time but after showing my mum, I booked a GP appointment to get it checked. When the test results revealed I had breast cancer I couldn’t believe it, my life turned upside down in that very moment. My first thought was of my three beautiful babies; would I get to see them grow up?

‘Given my age, my consultant suggested I have a genetic test. When I was told I’d tested positive for the faulty BRCA1 gene I was in total disbelief, it was like being diagnosed with cancer all over again.

‘I found being diagnosed with breast cancer at such a young age incredibly isolating. I started a blog about my experience so others wouldn’t have the same feelings of loneliness that I’d felt. I want to spread as much awareness of breast cancer and self-checking as possible, particularly in young black women. 

‘I now check my breasts regularly, it’s so important to make the time for self-checking and learn what’s normal for you.’

Checking your breasts only takes a few minutes

The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of successful treatment. It’s vital that women get into the habit of regular breast checking all year round.

Manveet Basra, Head of Public Health and Wellbeing at Breast Cancer Now, said:

‘Breast checking is quick, easy, and can help detect any breast cancer early, giving treatment the best chance of working.

‘There’s no special technique – just get to know your breasts and what’s normal for you, so you can spot any new or unusual changes, and remember to check all parts of your breasts, your armpits and up to your collarbone for changes.

‘Making this part of your routine – such as in the shower or when you apply moisturiser – can help you to do it regularly. Encourage your female friends and family to do this too; please don’t feel embarrassed talking about this simple step that could save your life.’

It’s as simple as TLC: Touch Look Check

  • Touch your breasts: can you feel anything unusual?
  • Look for changes: does anything look different?
  • Check any changes with your GP.

Do this regularly to check for changes. If you notice anything new or unusual it’s important to go and get it checked by your GP. You can also talk to our breast care nurses by calling our free Helpline on 0808 800 6000.

Find out more about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, and what to look for when you’re checking your breasts.

Signs and symptoms