Who are CoppaFeel!?
CoppaFeel! is the first breast cancer charity in the UK solely focussed on creating awareness amongst young people. They’re on a mission to ensure all breast cancers are diagnosed early and correctly by encouraging people to check their boobs and pecs regularly, educating them on the signs and symptoms, and empowering them to seek advice from a doctor if symptoms persist.
Why does Superdrug want to raise breast cancer awareness?
Around 1 in 8 women will experience breast cancer at some point in their life, and 400 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. At Superdrug Health Clinics we know that prevention is more effective than a cure, so we think that CoppaFeel!’s mission to encourage regular breast checks is a great way to make sure breast cancer is found early. Getting familiar with your breasts helps you spot any early changes, which is really important as it’s a lot easier to treat breast cancer at an earlier stage.
To help encourage regular breast checks, at the end of any Superdrug Health Clinic appointment you can have a chat with one of our nurses. They’ll be able to give you some tips on how to regularly check your breasts or pecs for changes, and advice on some of the signs of breast cancer that you should be aware of. You can’t book an appointment just for breast check advice - but we will have lots of helpful leaflets available in store!
Our nurses won’t be performing any physical breast checks and can’t make a diagnosis, but they can provide you with some useful advice and informational leaflets to help you check your own breasts. If you do find any changes, you should talk to your GP about it as soon as possible so you can get the medical advice and support you need.
How to check your boobs
You can check in any way that feels comfortable for you – in the shower, when you’re lying down in bed, or in the mirror before you get dressed.
However you want to check, CoppaFeel! have some handy pointers to help:
Check regularly – we believe boob checking should be a monthly habit, so that you’ll notice any unusual changes quickly. By checking on a regular basis, you’ll also build the confidence to know what’s normal for you, each month. Everyone has to start somewhere, so don’t worry if you’re not feeling confident straight away.
Know what’s normal for you – being breast aware simply means knowing what is normal for your boobs or pecs. If you have periods, it’s likely you’ll find that your boobs will naturally change as part of your cycle each month. It is important to get to know the normal rhythm of your boobs so you will be able to detect anything unusual quickly.
Look and feel – many of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer are changes you would only notice by looking at the appearance of your boobs. We recommend coppin’ a feel and taking a look during your checks.
Remember your collarbone and armpits – breast tissue isn’t only found in your boobs. It reaches all the way up to your collarbone and underneath your armpit so this whole area should be checked each time too. This is the same for both men and women.
If in doubt, get it checked out – your doctor is the only person who can refer you for further examination so we encourage people to visit their doctor after a week of monitoring the symptom if it doesn’t go away.
Get clued up on the signs of breast cancer – breast cancer doesn’t just show up as a lump so getting to know all the symptoms will help you detect anything suspect quickly. Remember that some of these changes might occur naturally with your cycle and can be perfectly normal.
Signs and symptoms to be aware of
Breast cancer can affect both men and women, so it’s important for everyone to be breast aware and to regularly check their boobs or pecs for any changes. Some of these changes can occur naturally or could be caused by other conditions, and won’t be a sign of breast cancer - so you don’t need to be worried of every change that you notice. But remember: if in doubt, get it checked out.
Skin & tissue changes to be aware of:
A lump in your breast – around 90% of breast lumps aren’t cancerous, which means that most lumps won’t turn into breast cancer, but it’s always a good idea to get it checked out by a doctor. Breast lumps can sometimes be a harmless buildup of fat under the skin (called a lipoma), or fluid-filled lumps (a cyst). You should still get any lumps you find checked out by your GP as soon as possible.
Sudden changes in size or shape of your breasts – there are loads of reasons why your breasts may change in shape or size such as hormonal changes, where you are in your menstrual cycle, and breastfeeding. It’s also normal for one breast to be a different shape and size to the other. However, if you notice unexpected or sudden changes in the shape or size of your breast, it could be a sign of breast cancer.
Changes in the texture of your skin – unexpected long-term changes to the texture of your breasts, including puckering or dimpling of the skin, may be caused by an underlying tumour. Skin dimpling, which can cause the texture of the skin to become similar to that of an orange, may be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer - which is an aggressive type of breast cancer, so if you notice this, don’t delay and see your GP as soon as you can.
Small bumps or swelling – breast cancer can spread to the lymph nodes under your armpits and around your collarbone, which can cause small lumps to appear. If you notice any new bumps or swelling in those areas, have a chat with a doctor about them.
Nipple changes to be aware of:
Nipple discharge – while nipple discharge can be an early sign of breast cancer, it can also be caused by a number of conditions. For some women, nipple discharge may be normal. However, if there’s a change or there is blood present then that may be a cause for concern, so you should chat with your GP. For men, nipple discharge is not normal and should be checked out by a GP.
A rash around your nipple – rashes around the nipple can sometimes form a crust on the nipple too. Whilst this may be caused by skin infections or other conditions, in some cases these changes be a sign of a type of breast cancer called “Paget’s disease”, which can be caused by cancerous cells in the breast spreading and infecting nipple tissue.
Nipple inversion (turning inwards) – for some people, inverted nipples are normal for their breasts. However, if you notice that your nipple is flattening or starting to turn inwards when it wasn’t previously, it may be a sign of a cancerous growth underneath the skin pulling the nipple inwards.
Other changes to be aware of:
Breast pain – although pain isn’t usually a symptom of breast cancer, if you have pain in your breast or pec that’s unusual and constant, get it checked out by your GP.