Getting a breast check up, do it yourself or go to the doctors?

You should regularly perform a breast check-up in order to notice any changes to your breast’s health. But should you just perform a breast check-up yourself or should you get a doctor to do it? The answer is both. 

You know your own body better than anyone else, so you will be the first to notice any pain or changes to your breast. Although, a doctor’s breast examination will be much more thorough and it will provide you with peace of mind regarding the results.

If you are concerned about any breast symptoms, it is always advisable to contact your GP immediately. In this article we’ll explain how to perform regular self breast check ups and why you should schedule a doctor’s appointment about your breast health. 

Self breast check up

The best way to remain aware of any changes to your breasts is to perform regular self check ups. You should know how your breasts usually feel so that you can take note of any sudden changes. 

It’s normal for some women to have naturally lumpy breasts especially near the armpit. After menopause, breasts also tend to feel softer, less firm and not as lumpy. It’s important to feel your own breasts and know what’s normal for you. 

How to perform a self breast examination?

Use your fingers and apply medium pressure to your breasts, ensure that you check for any lumps in the whole breast, armpit and all the way up to the collarbone. You should also look at your breasts in the mirror, raising your arms above your head and checking them from all angles. 

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Self examination of breast cancer. Medicine, pathology, anatomy, physiology, health. Info-graphic. Vector eps10 illustration. Healthcare poster or banner template.

How often should I perform a self breast check up?

It is recommended that you perform a self breast check-up once a month. You should aim to perform this check up on the same day of every month and ideally 3-4 days after your period has begun. 

Doctors breast check up

A breast check up with your doctor or a breast specialist is the best way to reassure yourself if you are experiencing any changes to your breasts or if you are concerned about your potential risk of developing breast cancer. They will assess you and your individual circumstances, giving you a definitive answer regarding your breasts health. 

You will automatically be invited for breast screening by the NHS if you are female and between the ages of 50 and 53. Then you’ll be invited every 3 years until you turn 71. However you should arrange to see a doctor or breast specialist before then if you are concerned. 

When should I see my doctor about my breasts?

If you experience any of the following symptoms, ensure that you arrange for a breast check up with your GP or breast surgeon specialist. The symptoms to look out for include:   

  • Changes within the breast’s texture, e.g.) thickening of the breast’s tissue.
  • Changes to the breast’s skin, e.g.) dimpling
  • Sudden changes to the breast’s size and shape.
  • A lump found within the breast or armpit. 
  • Nipple changes, e.g.) an inverted or retracted nipple.
  • Redness of flaky skin around the nipple area. 
  • Discharge or blood coming from the nipple, not breast milk. 
  • Breast or armpit pain.
  • Swelling in your armpit or swelling near your collarbone.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s most likely not breast cancer, but nonetheless it is important to get them checked out for reassurance and peace of mind.

Should I get a mammogram as part of my breast check up?

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast and for many women, it is the most efficient method for detecting breast cancer early, before it is big enough to cause symptoms for you to feel a lump. Your doctor may recommend a mammogram following an initial breast examination if they feel it is necessary. 

It is also recommended that women aged 50 to 70, who are at an average risk for developing breast cancer, should get a mammogram every three years. If you have had a history of breast cancer, it is advised that you get one once a year for five years after your diagnosis and then every three years thereafter.. 

Your doctor will advise you on the most appropriate solution.

Can a doctor determine my risk of developing breast cancer? 

Due to genomic medicine, doctors and breast specialists are now able to perform tests that analyse the individual’s DNA to determine their risk of developing breast cancer. There are two tests that your surgeon may be able to carry out: 

Invitae BRCA STAT Panel 

An Invitae BRCA STAT Panel can detect the presence of BRCA1 or BRCA 2 genes within an individual. These are rare gene defects that can significantly increase an individual’s risk of developing breast cancer. 

This test is used for individuals that have a strong family history of developing breast cancer. It may also be used for women who have previously had breast cancer and want to know if they are at risk of developing it in their other breast.

AnteBC Test

This AnteBC Test is recommended for women between the ages of 30 and 75. It is suitable for women who do not have a family history of breast cancer but wish to know their risk of developing breast cancer at some point in their life. 

The determined score does not definitively indicate whether or not a person will experience breast cancer, it only predicts their chances of potentially developing it. 

The importance of getting a breast check up

It is very important to regularly perform a breast check up on yourself and to schedule a doctor’s appointment when appropriate and necessary. Paying regular attention to changes in your breasts means that any diagnosis can be treated early and more effectively. 

For peace of mind and reassurance, check your breasts yourself and get a breast check up. If you would like to arrange for a breast check up with a breast surgeon specialist, you can do so here. 


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Breast surgery as any surgery is not without risk. These risks and the relative chance of them happening for you will differ dependent on the type of surgery you have and also personal risk factors. Risks of breast surgery can be early risks related to the surgery itself or longer term risks such as cosmetic changes related to ageing.

Infection and poor wound healing are a risk in all breast procedures whether it is for breast cancer or for cosmetic reasons. Cosmetic surgery has a lower risk of this but it is increased if you are a smoker or have other medical problems which may effect healing such as diabetes. Every breast procedure will have a long list of possible risks or complications however most of them can be quite rare.

Your surgeon will be able to guide you through the individual risks for your chosen procedure explaining about likelihood of occurrence and what that could mean for you if the complication occurs.

This can be a difficult question to answer. In the cosmetic setting your surgeon will listen to you about what you wish to achieve focusing on shape and volume. They will then examine and assess your chest frame to determine what range of implants are suitable for you to compliment your body shape without risk of long term poor cosmetic results.

Implants vary by brand, surface texture, volume and projection. The choices available within each of these categories can be extensive. The right implant for you will be based on a collaborative discussion between you and your surgeon to select the right implant, volume, shape and projection to be the best fit to meet your cosmetic needs.

Same day cosmetic surgery is generally very safe. Your surgeon will discuss with you specific risks which will be related to the surgery that is to be undertaken and the individual risks that may be more specific to you. This can often be related to any other medical conditions you have or if you are a smoker.

Following surgery you are observed for 2-4 hours afterwards to ensure you have recovered from the anaesthetic and there are no immediate post operative complications. If you are then deemed fit to be discharged you will be able to leave with further post operative instructions to guide you at home and also contact details should you experience any problems at home and need further medical advice. You will be required to have a responsible adult stay with you for the first night after surgery to be eligible to be discharged on the same day of your surgery.

The purpose of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery is different. Cosmetic surgery has a goal of improving the cosmetic appearance by complimenting and modifying the shape and/or size of your natural breasts. Reconstructive surgery is primarily considered for patients who may require or have a mastectomy(removal of all breast tissue). This can be for a number of reasons but primarily is for the treatment of breast cancer or risk reduction if patients have a gene defect making them much more at risk of developing breast cancer. Reconstructive surgery involves the recreating of a breast mound and shape. The cosmetic goals in reconstructive surgery can be quite different to cosmetic breast surgery due to the effects of cancer treatments and the loss of all breast tissue often preventing an optimal natural appearance to be achieved.

Both types of surgery can use implants and fat grafting but reconstructive surgery can also be undertaken by moving your own tissue from another area to recreate the breast.

If you are experiencing a breast symptom such as a new lump, skin or nipple change, nipple discharge, breast shape change, armpit lumps or breast/chest swelling in men then this clinic appointment will aim to address these and other breast symptoms. I will undertake a detailed assessment of the symptoms, screen for the need for genetic risk assessment and examine you. Based on this I will give you a clear explanation of that assessment.

I will inform you as to any diagnosis reached or the need for any imaging, which could be a breast ultrasound or mammogram to help reach that diagnosis. This may also be complimented by a tissue biopsy to confirm any diagnosis. Following any diagnosis I will discuss with you a plan of treatment or reassurance as necessary.

Breast symptoms are extremely common and can range from noticing a difference in the appearance or texture of your breasts to new lumps, nipple changes and breast pain. All breast symptoms should be reviewed by either your GP or a breast surgeon. However this does not mean to say that your symptom is likely to represent a worrying change such as cancer.

MOST breast symptoms are either the result of a normal variation in the tissues that comprise your breast or to a family of conditions that are collectively called benign breast disease. In my breast reassurance clinic I will be able to assess you and provide a diagnosis and explanation for your symptoms or if necessary, further assess the symptoms if a cancer is suspected. It is much more likely your breast symptoms are not due to breast cancer but please do be assessed for any new symptoms.

Choosing to have breast augmentation is a very personal decision. Your surgeon should guide you through this process. By doing this they should help you to decide firstly whether it is right for you and then guide you through your vision for the final look and how to achieve it. I always aim to really understand what the final desired appearance is wanted right up to the smallest detail. We discuss this based on the shape including cleavage, appearance in and out of clothes and then also volume. Following this discussion to achieve your look we may also discuss performing a small uplift as well as the use of implants.

I will always be honest about what can be expected and whether your vision of the final look is possible and responsible to achieve whilst respecting your body shape and frame. A library of my work will also be available for you to view. Beyond this it is also crucial that your surgeon discusses with you the potential risks of the surgery which should include short term and what may happen in the long term. With this entire discussion you will develop a rapport and relationship with your surgeon. You can then decide if that surgeon is the right one for you or not.

Breast augmentation surgery can be undertaken as a day case procedure. Hence you can go home the same day once you have had a period of observation after surgery. You will be fitted with a surgical bra and a binder which can be purchased by yourself or provided at the hospital. The binder provides gentle pressure from above the implants ensuring they remain in the optimal position whilst healing occurs. Please aim for about 4-6 weeks of recovery before getting back to anything strenuous such as the gym or long runs. If returning to work this can be done after 1-2 weeks but ensure you only undertake light manual labour activities.

I will ask you to wear the surgical bra as much each day and night as possible for 6 weeks to provide the best cosmetic result. Upon review during your recovery I will inform you as to when to remove the binder.



Breast Reassurance

Breast symptom assessment utilising the national standard of triple assessment (clinical hist...

Breast Cancer Care

Treatment of breast cancer including a full range of oncoplastic and breast reconstruction techniques.

Cosmetic Breast Surgery

Surgery to change the appearance of your breasts adjusting volume, shape and cleavage.