Women who are unhappy with the size of their breasts are less likely to carry out regular cancer checks, researchers warn.
Experts recommend women regularly examine their breasts for lumps that could be warning signs of a tumour.
But doctors have found that women who aren’t happy with their breast size carry out self-checks far less frequently than those who are.
Women who would prefer larger or smaller breasts are also more likely to delay seeing their doctor if they did detect a change, the experts found. The study of 384 British women, led by Anglia Ruskin University and University College London, found the majority of women reported some degree of breast dissatisfaction.
The results, published in the journal Body Image, found that 31 per cent said they wanted smaller breasts and 44 per cent wanted larger breasts.
A third of women in the study admitted they rarely or never engaged in breast self-examination. A fifth checked every six months, a quarter at least once a month, and another fifth at least once a week. The scientists asked women a series of questions about their satisfaction with their body generally, satisfaction with their breasts specifically, how confident they were they would spot changes in their breasts, and their weight.
Breast satisfaction was the only aspect that significantly correlated with frequency of checks, they found. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Britain, affecting 55,000 a year, and the second most common cause of cancer deaths, killing 11,000.
Professor Viren Swami, of Anglia Ruskin, said: ‘Our findings suggest that greater breast size dissatisfaction is significantly associated with less frequent breast self-examination, lower confidence in detecting breast change, and greater delay in seeing a doctor following breast change.’
Dr Tom Beattie, health information officer at Breast Cancer Now, said: ‘It’s so important that we ensure all women are checking themselves regularly for the signs and symptoms of cancer. Being breast aware simply means knowing what your breasts look and feel like normally, checking regularly and reporting any unusual changes to your doctor.
‘There’s no special technique, and you decide how often feels right – the main thing is you keep doing it. In most instances, any changes found are not cancerous, but it’s so important all women know the signs and symptoms to look out for, and to have anything unusual checked out.’
© Daily Mail