Be breast aware – look out for changes

Be breast aware


The Public Health Agency (PHA) is encouraging women to be breast aware and know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.

Breast cancer can occur at any age. However, the risk of developing it increases with age. Most breast cancers occur in women over 50. If it is found early, there is a better chance that treatment will be successful.

“There were over 1,500 cases of breast cancer diagnosed in Northern Ireland in 2018,” said Dr Louise Herron, Consultant in Service Development and Screening at the PHA.

“Most women know that if you get a lump in your breast you need to get it checked out early. However, lumps aren’t the only sign of breast cancer, so it is important to look out for any of a number of changes that could indicate that cancer may be present. Our breasts look and feel different at different times in our lives, but if you are worried about any change at all, the best way to put your mind at rest is to speak to your GP.”

Breast awareness: look out for changes

Appearance – a change in size or outline of either breast, especially those caused by arm movement; any puckering, dimpling or redness of the skin; or veins that stand out more than usual.

Lumps – any lumps or thickening in either breast that feels different from the other breast; any swelling or lumps under your armpit or around your collarbone.

Feelings – pain or discomfort in one part of either breast or in your armpit, particularly if new and persistent.

Nipple change – a nipple that has become pulled in, changed shape or shows signs of any discharge, bleeding, rash or crusted, flaky skin.

“If breast cancer is found early, there is a better chance that treatment will be successful,” said Dr Herron. “It is so important to be breast aware. To make sure you pick up any changes in your breasts you need to be aware of what is normal for you. You need to know when things change so you can spot potential problems.”

Dr Herron encouraged women to follow the breast awareness 5 point code.

The breast awareness 5 point code

1. Know what is normal for you;

2. Know what changes to look and feel for;

3. Look and feel;

4. Report any changes to your GP immediately;

5. Attend for breast screening from the age of 50.

For further information on the changes to look out for, see

If you notice any changes at all, see your GP. For further information on breast cancer visit

You can also find out information about breast screening at