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Home » Women's healthcare » Touch, look, check: how to become breast aware and know your normal

Manveet Basra

Associate Director of Public Health, Inclusion and Awareness, Breast Cancer Now

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, around 5,000 women in the UK will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Whatever your age, it’s vital you are ‘breast aware.’

October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month — a dedicated time to spotlight breast cancer and spread important breast health awareness messages across society. One woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 10 minutes in the UK. At Breast Cancer Now, we want to remind people we’re here to provide support to anyone affected by breast cancer, in every way we can, all year round.

Why people should be breast aware

While most breast changes — including breast lumps — won’t be breast cancer, the sooner it’s diagnosed, the more successful treatment is likely to be. This is why it’s so important that everyone regularly checks their breasts and knows the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.

Yet, our recent breast-checking habits survey revealed there’s still work to be done. It shows that 44% of women in the UK are not checking their breasts regularly for potential signs and symptoms of breast cancer*, and 29% of those who do check, don’t feel confident they would notice a new or unusual change.*

There’s no special technique; at Breast Cancer Now, we say it’s as simple as TLC: touch, look, check.

Get to know your normal with TLC

Checking your breasts only takes a few minutes. It could be while getting dressed, showering or applying moisturiser. It’s important to check your whole breast area, armpits and up to your collarbone (upper chest) for changes. There’s no special technique; at Breast Cancer Now, we say it’s as simple as TLC: touch, look, check. We encourage women to get to know their normal and to get any new or unusual changes checked by a GP.

Breast screening campaign

When it comes to breast cancer, there is no time to waste. The earlier the disease is detected; the more likely treatment is to be successful. This is why we encourage women to attend breast screening appointments when invited. The breast screening programme saves women’s lives from breast cancer and has been key to breast cancer survival rates doubling in the last 40 years.

However, despite it once being an NHS success story, the programme is now chronically underfunded and overstretched. As part of Breast Cancer Now’s #NoTimeToWaste campaign, we’re calling on the Government to urgently invest in the programme — guaranteeing its accessibility to all eligible women and ensuring it has enough staff and resources to offer the care women deserve now and in decades to come.

Anyone seeking information or support about breast health can speak to our expert nurses via our free, confidential helpline on 0808 800 6000 or via our online ‘Ask Our Nurse’ service.


*2023 Breast Cancer Now YouGov survey

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