How to check for breast cancer, and what to look out for

October 1 marks the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and one Kiwi woman is determined to educate others about the disease and how to find it.

Sarah Gandy is 36 and last year was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now, she's dedicated to helping others catch it early.

She told The Project she knew something was up when she noticed a small lump in her breast, which she describes as "semi-hard" and "almost ropey".

After getting her husband to double-check, she went straight to the doctor.

"Anything that you think feels a bit weird, go and get checked."

There are nine signs of breast cancer people should be aware of - and it's important to know what's normal for your body, so you can tell when something isn't right. 

The signs something could be wrong:

  • lumps
  • a rash
  • nipple inversion
  • discharge
  • colour change
  • swelling
  • armpit swelling
  • dimpling
  • pain

There is a myth that breast cancer doesn't cause any pain, but Gandy says that's crap.

"I reckon I had pain before I found my lump and I did nothing about it because I had heard that myth," she said.

Gandy says self-checking is crucial for people - "literally just cop a feel in the shower, have a good feel, look in the mirror and give them a jiggle".

The other thing that is important is that people advocate for themselves, she says.

"One in eight women under 45 have found a lump and done nothing - and that's terrifying. I would really encourage people to never feel like you're wasting their time because you're not.

"Advocate for yourself because you will save your own life."

Watch the full interview above.