Breasts are made up of fat, supportive (connective) tissue and glandular tissue containing lobes. It is important to be aware of how your breasts feel and look at different times.

Breasts are made up of:

  • fatty tissue
  • supportive (connective) tissue
  • glandular tissue containing lobes.

The lobes (milk glands) are where breast milk is made. They connect to the nipple by a network of fine tubes called ducts.

The tissue of the breast spreads into the lower armpit (axilla), which contains lymph nodes (glands). These are part of the lymphatic system, which protects us from infection and disease.

    

It is common for women’s breasts to be a different size or shape from each other. Women who have periods may notice their breasts change at different times of the month.

A woman’s breasts also change through pregnancy and menopause. These changes are linked to the different levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone the body produces.

Before a period, a woman’s breasts may feel tender and lumpy. During pregnancy, a woman’s breasts go through a lot of changes. After menopause, when the body makes less oestrogen, the breasts may change in size and feel softer or less full.

It is important to be aware of how your breasts feel and look at different times. You should know what is normal for you. A lump in the breast is the most common symptom of breast cancer. Most breast lumps are not cancer, but should always be checked by a doctor.

Women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) don't usually have symptoms. They are diagnosed through changes seen on a mammogram. DCIS is the earliest possible form of breast cancer.

Always see your doctor if you notice anything unusual for you, or if there is something you are not sure about.

How we can help

Macmillan Cancer Support Line
The Macmillan Support Line offers confidential support to people living with cancer and their loved ones. If you need to talk, we'll listen.
0808 808 00 00
Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm
Email us
Get in touch via this form
Chat online
Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm
Online Community
An anonymous network of people affected by cancer which is free to join. Share experiences, ask questions and talk to people who understand.
Help in your area
What's going on near you? Find out about support groups, where to get information and how to get involved with Macmillan where you live.