Be breast aware :: Central & East London Breast Screening Service
We are in the process of centralising the Breast Screening booking system across the London NHS Breast Screening Programme and soon we will have a new centralised hub where you will be able to change your appointments online. For general appointment enquires or to change your appointment please contact us on 020 3758 2024.

Information in other languages

Information about breast screening should be available to everybody. This area of the website lets you change information into the different languages that are commonly spoken in London.

The website uses a tool called 'Google translate' to automatically change one language into another via the internet. This is a valuable service, but it is automated so can present some problems with word for word translation. We have tried to use plain English on the website so it is clear and easy to read, and the automated translation makes it accessible to many more people.

If you require further language assistance, please contact The Barts and the London health advocacy service on

Free phone: 0800 056 6359

Be breast aware

Women with arms folded over her breasts

It is important to know your body and be aware of changes in your breasts.

Breast awareness

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. Around 50,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, of which approximately 340 will be men Approximately 81 per cent of breast cancers occur in women who are over the age of 50. Nearly half of all cases are diagnosed in people in the 50 - 69 age group. Breast cancer is not one single disease. There are several types of breast cancer. It can be diagnosed at different stages of development and can grow at different rates. This means that people can be given different treatments, depending on what will work best for them.

Having breast cancer doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is going to die. Better treatments mean that more and more people are now living long and full lives after breast cancer. It’s thought that around 550,000 women are alive in the UK who have had a diagnosis of breast cancer.

Being breast aware

Whatever your age, size or shape, it’s important to take care of your breasts. Being breast aware is about caring for your body. It means getting to know how your breasts look and feel, so you know what is normal for you. Then if you notice a change, you will feel more confident about going to see your GP and getting the change checked out.

How do I check my breasts?

There's no right or wrong way to check your breasts. Try to get used to looking at and feeling your breasts regularly. You can do this in the bath or shower, when you use body lotion, or when you get dressed. There’s really no need to change your everyday routine. Just decide what you are comfortable with and what suits you best.

Remember to check all parts of your breast, your armpits and up to your collarbone.

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 without delay
  5. Attend routine breast screening if you are aged 50 or over

Department of Health 2009

Changes to look and feel for

To pick up potential problems at the earliest possible opportunity, you need to be aware of any changes in your breasts, which you can see in the images below. It is important to remember that these changes are not usually accompanied with any other symptoms such as tiredness or loss of energy.

A change in size or shape

A change in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling (like orange skin)

A lump or thickening that feels different from the rest of the breast tissue

Redness or a rash on the skin and/or around the nipple

If your nipple becomes inverted (pulled in) or changes its position or shape

A swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone

Discharge (liquid) from one or both of your nipples

Constant pain in your breast or your armpit

What to do next

If you notice a change, please see your GP straight away. Your GP may be able to reassure you after examining your breasts, or you may be asked to come back at a different time in your menstrual cycle to rule out a hormonal cause. Alternatively, you may be sent to a breast clinic for a more detailed examination.

About Breast Cancer Care

Breast Cancer Care is just a phone call or mouse-click away for anyone living with breast cancer.

They bring people together, provide information and support, and campaign for improved standards of care. They use their understanding of people’s experience of breast cancer and their clinical expertise in everything they do.

Their free Helpline, information-packed website and online discussion forums offer a friendly ear and expert guidance to anyone affected by breast cancer.

Across the UK, they also offer skilled emotional and practical support through a range of confidential, face-to-face services, helping people every step of the way.

For more information visit or call the helpline on 0808 800 6000

Information provided by Breast Cancer Care. June 2011.

Registered charity in England and Wales (1017658) Registered charity in Scotland (SCO38104)