Body image concerns posing a risk for those who should be self-examining their breasts

dissatisfaction with breast sizeIn a worrying new report, health journal Body Image has revealed that women who are unhappy with the size or shape of their breasts are less likely to be undertaking regular self-checks of their breasts.

The study interviewed almost 400 British women and found that many of those who participated in the research wished that there was something that they could change about the appearance of their breasts. Just over one third wished that their breasts were smaller and almost half wished that their breasts were larger. Combining these two groups together indicates that three-quarters of the sample would ideally change something about their breasts – suggesting that many women have some level of breast size dissatisfaction.

The women who were less likely to be carrying out these regular checks also expressed concerns that they may be unable to detect changes in breast tissue which should prompt a visit to see their GP.

Importance of regular checks

In line with NHS best practice guidelines, women should ensure that they are checking themselves regularly for anything that is out of the ordinary for their bodies. In order to detect changes, either in size, shape, texture or composition, it is important that women know what ‘normal’ looks and feels like for them – especially as this often changes at different times throughout the month. Familiarity garnered from regular self-checks is the most effective way of ensuring that any changes are identified, and quick action can be taken.

The official advice as listed on is to contact your doctor if you notice:

  • Anything different in the size or shape of either of your breasts
  • Abnormal textures of the skin around the breast, such as dimpling
  • Presence of a lump or hardened area inside the breast or underarm
  • Unexpected discharge from the nipple
  • Change in nipple shape or position

Another worrying finding of the report was the reluctance of some women to visit the GP if they identified something that could be positively worrying. One in ten of those surveyed claimed that they would put off seeing the doctor for ‘as long as possible’ if they thought they had detected something. This head-in-the-sand approach carries significant risks to women, as the sooner a problem is detected, the sooner something can be done to fix it.