What is breast awareness?

Breast awareness is a part of general body awareness. It is a process of getting to know your own breasts and becoming familiar with their appearance. Learning how your breasts feel at different times will help you to know what is normal for you.

You can become familiar with your breast tissue by looking and feeling - in any way that is best for you (e.g. in the bath, shower, when dressing).

The breast is made up of the supporting tissue and the main part of breast. The supporting tissues include underlying pectoral muscle, fibrous tissue (ligaments), blood vessels, nerves and lymph vessels. The main part of breast are lobules, ducts, fatty tissue. The lobes or lobules are the milk-producing glands that cluster like bunches of grapes at the far end of the milk ducts in the breast. Ducts are milk passages that connect the lobules and the nipple. Fatty tissue that are together with ligaments surround the ducts and lobules.

Being breast aware and knowing what is normal for you will help to be aware of any changes from normal, should these happen.

After a hysterectomy

Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus or womb. A hysterectomy may remove the whole of the uterus (womb) and the cervix; Or it may just remove the uterus or womb but leaving the cervix intact. The breasts usually show the same monthly differences until the time when your periods would have stopped.

In addition to the hysterectomy, the ovaries and the fallopian tubes may also be removed, which may cause immediate surgical menopause.

Before the menopause

Normal breasts feel different at different times of the month. The milk-producing tissue in the breast becomes active in the days before a period starts. In some women, the breast at this time feels tender and lumpy, especially near the armpits.

After the menopause

Activity in the milk-producing tissue stops. Normal breasts feel soft, less firm and not lumpy.

You may have to look out for changes through appearance, feelings, lumps and nipple changes.

Appearance

Any change in the outline or shape of the breasts, especially those caused by arm movements, or by lifting the breasts. Any puckering or dimpling of the skin.

Feelings

Discomfort or pain in one breast that is different from normal, particularly if new and persistent.

Lumps

any lumps, thickening or bumpy areas in one breast or armpit which seem to be different from same part of the other breast and armpit. This is very important if new.

Nipple change

Nipple discharge, new for you and not milky. Bleeding or moist reddish areas which don't heal easily. any change in nipple position - pulled in or pointing differently. A nipple rash on or around the nipple.

There can be many reasons for changes in the breast. Most of them are harmless but all of them need to be checked as there is a small chance they could be the first sign of cancer.

The most common types of breast cancer begin either in your breast's milk ducts or in the milk-producing glands.

Breast cancer is very rare in women under the age of 40. The likelihood of developing breast cancer increases with age.

Breast Screening is a X-ray procedure which can detect breast changes at a very early stage, if you are aged 50 or over, it is strongly recommended that you should attend for breast screening service.

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