Breast Cancer: Signs and symptoms to watch out for

Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women worldwide, so it’s vital that we all know as much as possible about the disease. The key to beating cancer is catching it early and, at talkhealth, we’re all about taking health into your own hands - literally! 


55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK. That’s one in seven women who go onto develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. Pretty scary figures, huh?

But, survival rates have doubled in the past 40 years, thanks to developments in screening, targets and better public knowledge that’s led to early detection and prevention. 

Social media has helped get the facts about breast cancer out there better than ever. Whether its raising awareness of campaigns that encourage us to regularly check our boobs or allowing breast cancer survivors to go viral, online platforms have helped to destigmatise the disease. This has resulted in an increasing number of women going to get checked, according to NHS England a total of 1.93 million women aged 50 to 70 (64.6%) attended screening appointments in 2022. 

However, before screening we need to make sure we're keeping an eye out for the signs. So,give yourself a little bit of TLC - Touch, Look, Check. 

This three-stop shop could save your life. The more comfortable and natural checking your boobs becomes, the more likely you are spot red flags if and when they appear. It’s all about knowing what’s normal for you - and that means knowing what your boobs feel and look like usually. As soon as you notice any changes, make an appointment to see your GP.

Here are the key things to look out for: 

  • A lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit and a consistent pain in the area. 
  • A change to the skin. This could be puckering or dimpling or a colour change.
  • A nipple change. It may have become inverted, there may be a rash or crusting around the nipple, or there could be discharge coming from either of them.
  • Changes in size or shape of the breast.

Of course, breast cancer doesn’t just affect women. Around 350 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK every year. While the same symptoms can apply to all genders, men often develop a hard, painless growth under the nipple.

So get out there and get feeling yourself - your life might depend on it.

Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. The content however should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands or treatments.

Information written by the talkhealth team

Last revised: 19 October 2023
Next review: 19 October 2026