self examination

Having a panicky day today, I finished treatment in Feb this year and was told by the oncologist to ‘get to know my own breasts’ by examining them regularly. He examined them last week in my check up and said also that my mammogram result was fine. I tried this morning to examine myself but found the ‘normal’ breast was full of lumps, bumps, hard bits, soft bits etc. Also a fatty lumpy piece in the same spot as the tumour on the other breast! Have I lost the plot, because I don’t know whether to contact the oncologist again after only just seeing him, or to go to my GP or to stop panicking, take a deep breath and be realistic.

Is this normal to have breasts that are so lumpy etc. I cannot tell if they are normal or not? Also how often should you examine yourself?

Since the treatment has finished I have been in a permanent state of ‘fear’. This fear seems to have spread to worrying about family members and generally life going wrong! Will this feeling subside?

I am usually a very optimistic person would you believe it, but any advice would be so helpful.

many thanks

Hi there

I had a panic attack a few weeks ago when i thought i could feel a lump, im quite big busted so i never know what to look for either, luckily my onc said it was just breast tissue rubbing against my ribs. Ive just had my mri back which is all clear and now im leaving them alone, he told me that everyone has lumps and bumps so i would go your doctors to put your mind at rest and then after that get to know what lumps and bumps are there so its not frightening when you examine yourself, whilst your there your doctor can show you the correct way to examine yourself. I think though were all the same when it comes to the fear of a new lump.
Your not alone.

Good luck

Tracey xx

breast self examination has been proved to be of no value in detecting breast cancer which is why breast cancer care now talk about breast self awareness. You check for what is normal for you and then if any changes occur, not just lumps, you go to your GP or consultant. I decided years ago that my breasts were so lumpy I’d never find a lump and when I did get one, it was very obvious. I wouldn’t bother searching for them.

The trial of breast self examination involved around 500,000 women in china and russia and found that the mortality rates from breast cancer were the same in the group taught self exam as they were in the control group. The only difference was that the self exam group had more needless biopsies for benign disease.

I was so glad when I read this as I haven’t examined my breasts since.



I have added a link to a Breast Cancer Care publication on breast awareness that you may find helpful, it can either be downloaded or ordered via the helpline on freephone 0808 800 6000.

Kind Regards
Breast Cancer Care

I thought i had found a lump in my good boob, but when i saw my onc and bc nurse last week, they told me to leave them alone, as most changes would be due to the hormone treatment, and they would be checking them of a regular basis so now i’m keeping my mits off them and will leave it to the people who know what to look for, but i would also add, that had i not checked my breasts before i was diagnosed, then i might have lost more than just my breast .


Re Alison camera - I didn’t check or do breast self exam, I still found the lump and I didn’t lose my breast either. I had DCIS which is undetectable in addition to my lump and that was the reason I lost more breast than I would have liked - not the detectable tumour.

it is a lottery


It certainly is Mole, i had always examined my breasts from an early age, my mum died of renal cancer, and well, it just became habit, just mid cycle, and just using the flat of my fingers, but only having small boobs it was quite easy to find, now, well, after being told to leave them alone, well i am, to be honest, i haven’t got another one to compare it to now, due to my tumour being mid way between my nipple and sternum, so a lumpectomy wasn’t a choice for me as i didn’t have enough clearance, but i am here, i am quite happy, have me good days, have me bad days, but basically, very very glad to be alive with quite a good prognosis, and very glad that i have people here who can help me, and hopefully i can help them a little. i had always been lucky with my boobs, they never changed or became painful when i was due on, even when i was breast feeding i never had a problem, they didn’t even change size!!! but now after what the onc said, well, wish they had just said it a bit earlier, i am happy to just leave it to the experts to check them.

lots of love


It certainly is a lottery - I found the one in my other breast in the shower - I would always soap my body with bare hands and I find that the best way personally to check. I had a clear mammogram just 6 weeks before finding this particular beastie and it was growing fast!