See your GP if you have symptoms of breast cancer. They will examine you and ask about your symptoms.
Your GP can refer you to a specialist breast clinic for scans and tests if needed.
Breast x-ray (mammogram)
An x-ray of your breast, called a mammogram, may be done to look for any lumps or unusual areas.
You take your top off for the test and your chest will be firmly pressed against a special plate while the x-ray is taken.
An ultrasound scan of your breast may be done to look for a lump in your breast and see if it's solid or filled with fluid. A solid lump is more likely to be cancerous. But most lumps are not.
An ultrasound scan uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of the inside of your breast.
A small device is moved over your chest to create an image on a screen.
You'll need to remove your top for the test.
If a lump or unusual area is found in your breast, a biopsy will be done to check if it's cancer.
This is where a small piece of breast tissue is removed using a needle. Local anaesthetic is used first, to numb your skin, so the biopsy needle does not hurt.
The piece of tissue will be checked in a laboratory. This is to see if it contains any cancer cells and to find out more about the cells such as whether hormone treatment might work.
Coping with a diagnosis
Being told you have breast cancer can cause a wide range of emotions, such as shock, fear, confusion and, in some cases, embarrassment.
Feelings of isolation are also common. This may be because there's not much information and advice for men with breast cancer.
Speak to your GP or care team if you're struggling to come to terms with your diagnosis. They can offer support and advice.
Community cancer support centres are in most local communities and provide support services for cancer patients, their families and carers.
They have a wide range of programmes and supports available including:
- counselling and psychological support
- manual lymphatic drainage
- physical activity programmes
- survivorship programmes
- complementary therapies
Support for cancer survivors
The Cancer Thriving and Surviving programme gives cancer survivors a chance to learn self-management skills when moving on from your cancer treatment.
The programme is run over 6 weeks and is available at different areas around the country.