What to do if you find a lump in your breast

Millie Mackintosh at the BAFTAs in 2024. (Getty Images)
Millie Mackintosh has shared a recent breast cancer scare after finding a lump in her breast. (Getty Images) (Shane Anthony Sinclair/BAFTA via Getty Images)

Millie Mackintosh has shared a recent breast cancer scare after she noticed a lump on her left breast.

As well as making an appointment with her GP, the former Made In Chelsea star, 34,detailed the various tests she underwent as doctors tried to find the determine the cause of the growth.

In a post, shared to Instagram, the mum-of-two, revealed that having a biopsy caused her to feel some "health anxiety" as she waited for the results.

"Firstly, I want to say, I’m incredibly fortunate that my experience of finding a lump resulted in a clear diagnosis," she wrote. "For the 55,000 Women & Men diagnosed with Breast Cancer each year, their story & journeys are unbelievably heroic."

Mackintosh went on to explain that last month she'd discovered a lump on the edge of her left breast

"Although I tried to stop my mind from racing, the worry crept in very quickly. I knew this was not something to ignore so I booked in with my GP."

The former reality star added that under NHS guidelines, if your symptoms could indicate cancer, your GP will refer you on a two-week urgent referral.

"Upon examination with my GP and given my age, I was referred for an Ultrasound rather than a Mammogram," she continued.

"Unfortunately the results were inconclusive and a biopsy was needed."

Millie Mackintosh, pictured in 2024, has urged women to check their breasts. (Getty Images)
The former Made In Chelsea star has urged other women to check their breasts. (Getty Images) (David M. Benett via Getty Images)

The concern surrounding this had a toll on Mackintosh's wellbeing and "all rational thinking went out the window".

She added that, while waiting for her results, she tried to adjust her mindset to a more positive one by confiding in family and close friends.

However, she still admitted to struggling to sleep due to the "health anxiety" she was experiencing.

Thankfully when she got the results of the biopsy she learned it was a benign lump with no detection of cancerous cells.

"It’s believed the lump was likely caused by hormonal changes and didn’t need removing," she added, before urging other women to check their breasts.

"With 1 in 20 lumps deemed potentially concerning, early detection is one of the most important steps, so please put a few minutes aside for your monthly MOT and don’t put it off!" she concluded before guiding her fans to the charity Coppafeel.

We all have breast tissue, so all genders should be checking theirs once a month, whether that's in the shower, in bed, or before getting dressed.

While you can follow it in the order that suits you, CoppaFeel! has put together the three most important breast-checking steps.

  • Look at your boobs

  • Look at the area from your armpit, across and beneath your boobs, and up to your collarbone

  • Be aware of any changes in size, outline or shape and changes in skin, like puckering or dimpling

You may find it easier to use a mirror, and if you can, look with your arms both raised and down by your sides.

  • Feel each of your boobs

  • Feel the area from your armpit, across and beneath your boobs, and up to your collarbone

  • Be aware of any changes in skin like puckering or dimpling, or any lumps, bumps or skin thickening that are different from the opposite side

If you can, you might find it easier to feel with your arms both raised and down by your sides, or lying down

  • Look at each of your nipples

  • Be aware of any nipple discharge that's not milky, bleeding, rash or crusting that doesn't heal easily and change changes in the position of your nipple

Again, you may find it easier to use a mirror.

Remember that when looking and feeling, you should repeat each step for each side of your breasts.

To help with easily adding self-checks into your routine, you can use Coppafeel!'s regular boob check reminder and to make sure you've covered everything, download its checklist.

Women are also being urged to check their breasts regularly. (Getty Images)
Women are being urged to check their breasts regularly. (Getty Images) (Getty)

While most breast lumps are harmless, some can be serious, so if you feel a lump in your breast, always get it checked by a GP.

At your appointment your GP will look at and examine your breasts. If they're not sure what's causing the lump, they'll refer you to a hospital or breast clinic for further tests.

At the hospital or breast clinic, you may have a breast examination or scan (usually a breast X-ray (mammogram) or ultrasound). You may also undergo a biopsy which involves inserting a needle into the lump to remove some cells for testing.

"These tests are often done during the same visit," the NHS advises. "You'll usually be told the results on the same day, although biopsy results take longer – you may have to wait about a week."

Treatment for a breast lump depends on the cause, but it is worth noting that most are harmless and may go away on their own without treatment.

Potential causes of breast lumps

There can be various causes of lumps in the breasts including a non-cancerous tissue growth (fibroadenoma) or a build-up of fluid (breast cyst).

Sometimes, a breast lump can be a sign of something serious like breast cancer.

It is important to get to know what is normal for your breasts. (Getty Images)
It is important to get to know what is normal for your breasts. (Getty Images) (Getty Images)

“We encourage women to attend breast screening appointments when invited and to regularly check their breasts," explains Manveet Basra, associate director, public health, inclusion and awareness at Breast Cancer Now.

"Checking your breasts take a few minutes. It could be when you get dressed, when you’re showering or putting on moisturiser. Just remember to check your whole breast area, your armpits and up to your collarbone (upper chest) for changes. There's no special technique, it’s as simple as TLC: Touch, Look, Check.

While many women know that a lump can be a possible symptom of breast cancer, there are other signs of the disease to look for.

"These include nipple discharge or dimpling or puckering of the skin of the breast," Basra continues. "Most breast changes, including lumps, won’t be cancer, but it’s important to contact a GP as soon as possible if you notice a change to your breast that’s new or unusual for you. The sooner breast cancer is found, the more successful treatment is likely to be.

“Anyone seeking information or support about breast health can speak to our expert nurses via our free, confidential helpline on 0808 800 6000 or our ‘Ask Our Nurses’ email service.”

For more information on checking your breasts and signs and symptoms of breast cancer visit: breastcancernow.org/check or https://breastcancernow.org/information-support/support-you

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