How did you find your lump/symptoms?

I was surpised when my hospital thought that breast cancer in young women was well publicised and that there was a lot of breast awareness out there. Hardly any of my friends regularly check their breasts ( well they didn’t till 2 months ago when i was diagnosed with bc!). I just wondered how the younger ladies on here first found a lump or what prompted them to be seen by a doctor?

I have always been quite breast aware and examined myself every few months. I picked it up from tv programmes and magazine articles. At the end of february, three things happened in 24hours that made me realise i hadn’t checked my breasts for a few months. I read a magazine where amanda holden told a story about her own breast scare, then saw a breast exam on “embarrassing bodies” then read the start of a book called “the step mothers support group” where a character had BC. I then did a proper by the rules breast exam and found my lump.

So i am a cross between a self checker and outward events prompting me to check. I don’t think i would have found this lump accidentally for some time as i could only feel it when i was reclined with my arm above my head.

I realised i had been having low level breast pain for a month or two, but at 36 didn’t dream it was my breast, i thought it was my heart if anything but passed it off as paranoia!

So i just wondered how anyone else found their lumps and whether it was self exam, prompted by events or randomly finding it in the shower etc.


Hi Vickie
I found mine when i was picking my son up in the kitchen. Suddenly I was aware my boob was uncomfortable. I put my hand down and felt what seemed like a ligament because it was long rather than round. At first I convinced myself it was something to do with carrying my lttle boy but the nagging doubt wouldnt go so after i monitored it for 1 cycle I went to the docs. The rest is history. Oh and by the way mine hurt the pain would radiate out across my breast. debx

Cheers deb, i think there is a lack of knowledge, even amongst professionals, that breast cancer can cause pain. I wonder why?

Hi there

I was first diagnosed with DCIS in 2005 and found a thickening purely by coincidence. It felt odd and thick. I went to docs who couldn’t find anything but referred me to hospital who thankfully did a mammogram and scan found the DCIS. Had lumpectomy and rads. However second time round in November 2009 I had a routine mammogram and found a lump, ended up with Lobular Invasive Cancer and had mastectomy and chemo. On both occasions I didn’t have any pain. I think it varies on an individual basis. So for me having a great doc who initially sent me to the hospital was a saving grace.

Cheers Kat, yes sounds like you had a decent gp there, is scary how that can make a difference

Mine was a slight dimple. I waited a month before going to GP and she didn’t see it as it was only evident with bra on with side lighting, not the bright lights of the surgery. She couldn’t feel a lump and probably thought I was neurotic as did I. Over the months, the dimple became more pronounced and I ignored it! I eventually went back to gp when I could feel a thickening, but beat myself up wondering why on earth I didn’t go back at least 1 year earlier! I probably could have avoided chemo. Click on my profile for the rest of the details.

Hi all
What an interesting topic. Thanks for starting it-I have been silently wondering about this for the last couple of years.

Yes, I feel the same way about pain-it was a symptom for me. I felt that the pain, the fact I have been breast aware since my teens,my age,health and breastfeeding worked against me, rather than for me in getting dx earlier. I was told how unlikely it was, and that seemed to be the over riding factor.

I found two smallish lumps (axilla and breast) when I stopped breastfeeding my second child. I wnet staright to the Gp-who was not great- but I got a referral. I had pain, and numbness at times in my arm. I was 34. I won’t go into the whole chronology, because its not very helpful, but it was deemed that all was well, despite referrals, and I think had I been older I would have had mammo and further tests, but instead I had a reassuring and thorough physical exam. It was put down to breastfeeding 2 children and changes in breast size/tissue. I was specifically asked if it caused me any pain.

I did have pain on and off after that, swollen arm and hand, pins and needles, and countless appts. I was given steriod injections in my back, sent to an osteo, given a splint for my hand at the hospital, and because I’d been referred so recently, GPs were absolutely satisfied it was nothing to do with bc. So was I! The words of one exasperated male GP ring in my ears still ‘Mrs xxxx, if you had anything more sinister it would have presented itself by now’.
I now know my tumour was deep inside and irregular, not defined or apparent as a discrete lump to anyone else.
One day I pulled a muscle, could barely move my arm or shoulder and a large lump just appeared. Straight back to clinic urgently, and at 36 I was dx with a large tumour, plus enlarged nodes, same places as before.

Clearly, clinically my symptoms didn’t present as obvious bc originally, but I do feel that if you are making women responsible for their health, you need to listen to them carefully and keep an open mind. Statistically its unlikely-which to me means when you get a woman who is young, healthy, breast aware, you need to wonder why she keeps turning up with aches and pains!

C x

I found mine purely by chance. I did not check my breasts, although oddly enough a few years back I bought one of those breast check packs in a pink box with like a gel filled pad.

I was just sitting there at my laptop one evening and had an itch on my chest just by my breastbone. Scratched it and as I do so, ran my finger over a small pea sized lump. Never noticed it before.

So I thought I had better get it checked anyway, not at all thinking it would be anything serious, but felt I should do it. Went to see gp, she did the examination and looking back now I think she must have felt the other larger thickening that I hadn’t even noticed.

Anyway went home that evening after being referred and decided to take off my bra and look in the mirror. It was only then that I looked and my heart sank, my left breast was all dimpled and lower than the other with the nippled kind of sinking in on itself.

So I think from then onwards I kind of knew. Went to my referral and was seen initially by a doctor and told that the lumps felt benign, but they would ultrasound anyway. Had ultrasound and they the sonographers face went from being all happy and smily to serious as soon as she started the scan. Had biopsies and went back a week later to the news I expected but you can never prepare yourself for.

Paula x

Sorry I gave way to a bit of a rant there and forgot to answer the main point of the question- I did self check regularly, and when I had pain that didn’t stop post-breast feeding, I did a really thorough check of that breast.
C x

I am not a younger lady, coming up for 57 in a few months. What happened was I suddenly had a thing on my breast, right beside my nipple, that looked like a pimple or a wee boil. It wasn’t there 1 day, & was the next. I don’t even know why I went to the g.p., normally I tend to keep an eye on things to see what they do before bothering doctors. Anyway, within a few days I had phoned for an appointment. Around this time I also became aware of a ‘gnawing’ sensation in my breast. I fully expected the g.p to tell me it was only a boil or pimple & send me home, & he did say he didn’t think it was anything, but the policy is to send anyone with a lump to breast clinic. This was on the Tuesday evening. He referred me & told me to phone on the Friday to make an appointment that would suit me. They guarantee you can be seen within 2 weeks, but I took 3 as I had guests from Germany coming to stay, so was at clinic for exam 3 weeks on the Tuesday. Had mammograms, & then 2 hours later saw surgeon. I gather the mammograms were clear because he examined the lump & said he didn’t know what it was, which I found encouraging, given he examines these things every day. So just when I thought he was about to send me home with my boil/pimple he said I should have an ultrasound. By now it was approaching 5.00 & he sent nurse to see if they could do me, they said yes, but no more today. So off I went, quite happy, cos I know ultrasound doesn’t hurt (big wuss), then during it the lady said she could see something under my arm & did a couple of needle biopsies (which hurt quite a lot) & I thought this isn’t good, the lump is nowhere near there, & I think I knew at that point. Back to the surgeon, he did a scoop test, asked if I could come back the following week for results, but I couldn’t so was back a fortnight later for dx, but it really wasn’t a shock by then.

Well i was having a shower in 2008 had lost 3 stone in weight through slimming world and was just washing myself when noticed a mass on my left boob. Went to GP had check up was refered to hospital. seen within 2 weeks had mamogram and core needle biopsies and was told 2 weeks later that everything was ok. they would call me back year later. in 2009 had another mamaogram told everything was ok asked if i wanted t have lump out it was my choice which i did so 18th Jan had lump out still told everything ok was called back a week later to come in went by myself still none the wiser and was told that i had breast cancer on the 27th Jan 2010.

I was getting in the shower one Sunday morning and found what felt like a huge lump in my armpit and my friend has since described it as like the yolk of an egg. I knew that I was going straight to my GP the next morning. My GP felt the lump and then felt my breast and told me that I also had one there as well! I had no idea - how could I not have realised? I also noticed that the breast had got bigger.

Also what frustrates me is that we have a family history but it was only after I was diagnosed that it occurred to me that I was at higher risk than others who didn’t have a family history. If I had known or realised, maybe I would have got myself checked out as a precaution?

I was referred urgently to the hospital but saw somebody privately 2 days later who carried out ultrasound and really confirmed it was BC but I continued down the line of NHS and attended my hospital that Friday and it all went from there. Getting the actual diagnosis was not exactly a shock - I was expecting it.

I went for a mammogram, and was called back. At the time l thought nothing of it, because l had always checked myself. Years before l had a benign lump removed,and it had left a scaring, so it always felt different there, and l thought this was what was showing on the mammogram! The cancer lump was under the scar!

thanks everyone for their stories, it seems like most lumps, pre screening age, are found by chance judging by the posts so far. I hope we get more people’s stories as it somehow just puts thinhs into more real terms?

I had a mammogram in December 09and it was clear - didn’t feel anything at all in my breast and had no worries.

I ‘bumped’ myself in early january 10 walked into a door and my breast was sore and very bruised. I looked at it closely and noticed that there was a lump protruding above my nipple. I still wasn’t worried given my all clear the month before but I went to the GP anyway as it didn’t feel right.

He was superb, had a good ‘feel’ and he said he could feel 3 lumps! He said it probably wasn’t anything given my clear mammogram but referred me anyhow and I got an immediate appt for the next week. (My sister had breast cancer 5 years ago - another factor or referral)

Attended hospital appt, consultant had a feel and again said he didn’t think it was anything (given the clear mammogram) but referred me for an ultrasound scan there an then. The scanner spent ages on both breast and was stopping putting markers in, and stopping again - he never said anything but sent me back to the consultant with my pictures in an envelope.

Consultant again looked at scan and said that there was something on the ultrasound scan so he would do a biopsy - he did the biopsy there and then (it didn’t hurt at all) and again said he didn’t think it was anything to worry about but come back next week for results.

One week later, on my own, just popped in after work, I was told I had breast cancer! it was a real shock to me totally unexpected. after my mastectomy I was told my tumour was 9cm! I can’t believe I was walking around with a 9cm tumour in my breast and I didn’t notice it. I also had a lot of lymph nodes affected although they didn’t show up on the ultrascan.

I am meeting with the consultant radioologist next week to discuss my ‘clear’ mammogram results. She has invited me in following a letter I wrote to her. She said she will show me my pictures and will answer any questions I may have - I am happy about that as obviously now my worry is my ‘good’ breast and I want to make sure any re occurance is found early (and not wait until its 9cm!).

I had my last mammogram in August 2007 which was clear.
Went to see my GP in Feb with something totally unrelated. whilst there I said "by the way I have been having intermittant pain in my left breast for a couple of momths. she made me an appointment for the next week so that she could examine me properly. she found the main lump which,I found out from my consultant, was 2.5cm with 3 further small lumps. I was offered an appointment at the hospital a week later but had a holiday in Scotland booked, so didn’t go till the week after,. Don’t know if that week made any difference.


When I was 26 I found a lump,had it investigated only to be told that I had “lumpy” breasts ! Nice…anyway , I always self checked and last year age 44, I found a slight lump that just felt a bit different in my lumpy breasts,thank goodness I went to docs right away and got referred straight away too,the rest is history. I tell everyone I know to be breast aware and just get to know your boobs as it could be a lifesaver. If I hadn’t bothered getting it checked out seeing as I was years off the screening prog goodness know what the outcome would have been.

Sandra x

Great thread…
I felt a strange ‘itching’ sensation under my nipple at New Year, didnt pay it much attention. A few weeks later a pain under my nipple which caused me to feel it. I felt a large lump, my husband then noticed that the nipple was inverted. Diagnosed on 1st of Feb with Grade 2, stage 2 IDC, 30mm tumor. After surgery my surgeon commented that they were sorry that they couldnt save the nipple because the tumor was behind it, but I replied that had it been anywhere else I might not have noticed it, so grateful that it was positioned there.
The big lesson is that ANY change in your breast should result in a doctors appointment.

May I come in here please?How different we all are.I came back from a fab holiday last Oct 2009 1st I had had after splitting up with my ex 4 yrs earlier to find my routine over 50s mammogram appt, had to change it and trotted off with no probs, but had a recall. More mammos, ultra-sound loads of time in my axilla by the radiologist and biopsies. Then when he threw off his gloves and ran out of the room shouting she will have to come back when there is a a surgeon here I KNEW. Problem now/since is that no-one can feel this lump. Originally it was thought to be 12mm in Nov 2009, then after MRI showed multi-focal bits making size 4cm still no-one can feel it.(Regular exams by Onc at 3weekly intervals prior to Chemos x6) and still no one of can feel it and chemo did not work according to MRI. WLE on Thurs then we shall see. How on earth can I be expected to know/feel anything in the future? Jackie

Hi, it does seem like most are found by chance…I scratched an itchy boob and felt a lump. But because I am only 43 I thought maybe it was a huge insect bite or something silly like that, but I checked it about twenty times over the next two days and it showed no sign of going away so I went straight to the doctor next day (actually they said they had no appointments left but would the nurse be any good, I said I dont know, I have found a lump in my breast and suddenly and miraculously an appointment became available!) She said she was absolutely positive it was just a cyst because it felt smooth and regularly shaped and cancerous lumps are rough and irregular but referred my for mammogram and ultrasound anyway, which only took one week for the appointment to come through. Went off, laughing and joking all through the mammogram, smiling and cheerful as the ultrasound started until suddenly I heard her say she was going to do a biopsy! Then my world turned upside down! I get the results on Monday but she said she wasnt happy with this lump, thought there might be another smaller one behind it and was going to take a biopsy of lymph nodes at same time. That stopped me smiling! Today my dominant emotion is anger, not with possibly having cancer but with my GP. I dont know if its true about cancerous lumps being rough and irregular but I’m pretty sure that some women would have thought, oh well I can live with a cyst for a bit, its not giving me any trouble or whatever and not bothered with the tests, which obviously could be really dangerous and delay the discovery of the cancer and lead to all sorts of trouble. I really think I ought to say something to her or the practice manager, but not right now, eh, got too much to worry about at the moment. I just pray other women are not missing out on diagnosis and treatment because of reassuring words from their GP.