Checking breasts


I tend to check my breasts once a month a week or so after my period starts.

I use a soapy flat hand and go all around each breast, up to collarbone and into armpits. They usually feel smooth and the same with no swelling or bumps. I also check in the mirror lifting arms and putting hands on and off hips again look similar no differences or changes.

However for the past month or so my health anxiety makes me worry I am not checking them properly and I should be pressing into my breast more. In the past when I have done this I can feel nodules which are in both and I even had an appointment as I thought I felt something strange. My gp and the doctors at the breast clinic were I was sent for reassurance didn’t press hard and even they said a soapy flat hand in the shower is enough, never press in with fingers as you will always feel some lumps or bumps by doing that.

my question is, why am I worrying so much? Even though I regularly check and I feel confident I would spot a change, it’s always on my mind and I dread checking incase something is there. When I find it’s ok I feel fine for a few mins then start asking did I check properly am I doing it right?

it’s driving me insane!!

any advice appreciated

Hello @rachael1009  

I’m sorry you are finding yourself so anxious about checking your breasts. 
Firstly you are doing absolutely the right thing by checking your breasts regularly and at the same time every month as your breasts can feel different at different times of your cycle. You have also been told and shown the correct technique for doing so and have been told that the important thing to look for is change from month to month. 
Breast cancer is the same as every other cancer and illness that we can develop in life, in that we cannot “prevent” it, all anyone can do is to reduce our risk and the advice for doing that is to do our best to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating a healthy diet by avoiding processed food (especially ultra processed) limiting our alcohol and sugar intake and exercising regularly (regular exercise having the added bonus of helping to maintain good mental health and reduce anxiety)

The final advice is to ensure you take up your invitation for a mammogram when it arrives. You don’t mention how old you are so you may not yet be eligible, if you aren’t then it might interest you to know that the screening programme works on a 3 year cycle and (whilst I’m not a scientist) I would have thought that the reason for this is because the majority of breast cancers are very slow growing, I’m aware of ladies being recalled and diagnosed as a result in changes being spotted in mammograms 3 years apart: mine was picked up on my first mammogram when it was very very small for which I’m extremely grateful but reassured that if it had been picked up later than it would have been just as treatable 

I hope this helps

AM xx

Hello Rachael1009

Thanks for posting.

It’s not unusual to experience health anxiety, especially after a trauma such as, losing a pregnancy.

Often with health anxiety, no matter how much reassurance that’s offered, it does not stop the worry or stops it only for a brief time.

I am including our information about breast awareness and risk but would encourage you to speak to your GP about accessing some psychological support. Talking therapies really can help with anxiety conditions. Depending on where you are in the UK, you may be able to self-refer.

There are also organisations that help support someone after a miscarriage. This includes Tommy’s and the Miscarriage Association.

It looks as if @adoptedmanc ’s response has also helped, which is good to see.

Do call our helpline if you would like to talk this through or have any further questions. The helpline team have time to listen to your concerns, talk things through and signpost you to more support and information. Your call will be confidential, and the number is free from UK landlines and all mobile networks. The number is 0808 800 6000, (Relay UK -prefix 18001).

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Best wishes


Breast Care Nurse

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