Look out for:
- Changes in skin texture e.g. puckering or dimpling that might look like orange peel
- Any swelling in your armpit or around the collarbone
- A sudden change in size, outline or shape
Further info on chest-checking
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Signs & Symptoms
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Common Questions about Chest-Checking
Why regularly check?
All bodies are different, and by checking regularly, you’ll build an understanding of what’s normal for you and you’ll more likely notice any unusual changes.
Your [boobs|pecs|chest|breasts] changes constantly throughout your life, particularly during puberty and adolescence.
For women and people assigned female at birth, it’s common to experience changes to your chest in the years from your first period to menopause. This is because of the varying levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone in your body.
Getting to know the natural rhythm of your [boobs|pecs|chest|breasts] will help you to detect anything unusual quickly. The more familiar you are with how your chest looks and feels, the more confidence you will have in contacting your doctor about any concerns. Remember, it may take a few checks before you feel confident knowing what is normal for your [boobs|pecs|chest|breasts].
If you’re taking the pill or hormone based medications
There is evidence that taking the contraceptive pill can slightly increase the risk of breast cancer for some people. If you’re taking the contraceptive pill or other hormone-based medications, you may notice changes to how your [boobs|pecs|chest|breasts] feels. Each person will be different, so talk to your GP if you have concerns.
If you’ve had breast surgery or implants
If you have recently had breast surgery or implants, it is important to get to know your new normal, as your chest may look and feel different. Some people that have breast implants say that they find it harder to check all areas of their [boobs|pecs|chest|breasts]. Whilst the NHS doesn’t offer any different guidance for those with implants, it can help to test out a few different positions whilst checking. Try looking and feeling whilst standing up, lying down or with each of your arms raised to ensure you can feel all areas of the [boobs|pecs|chest|breasts] more thoroughly.
Changes can be an early sign of being pregnant. Many women feel a change in sensation in their [boobs|pecs|chest|breasts] such as tingling and soreness (particularly of the nipples). This is due to increased levels of the hormone progesterone and the growth of the milk ducts. The appearance of the [boobs|pecs|chest|breasts] can also change. The [boobs|pecs|chest|breasts] and the areola (the circle of skin surrounding your nipple) may begin to get bigger. The nipple and areola can become darker and remain that way during pregnancy.
It’s normal to experience changes when breastfeeding, as large amounts of milk are produced to feed a newborn baby. The [boobs|pecs|chest|breasts] can change size many times a day according to the baby’s feeding pattern. Nipples can sometimes become sore and cracked, but this generally gets better over time. When breastfeeding stops, the [boobs|pecs|chest|breasts] may gradually go back to how they were before pregnancy, although they might be a different size and less firm than before.