How to check your breast for lumps as Coronation Street star says she found one breastfeeding

Victoria Ekanoye, pictured, has shared how she found a lump in her breast while breastfeeding her son. (Getty Images)
Victoria Ekanoye has shared how she found a lump in her breast while breastfeeding her son. (Getty Images)

Coronation Street star Victoria Ekanoye has shared how she found a lump on her breast when she was breastfeeding her son.

Speaking on an episode of Dawn Butler Mammogram and Me podcast, said she was nursing her six-month-old-son, Theo when she first noticed the lump in her left breast.

"The lump was pushed to the surface and I could feel it," she explains. "It was like a frozen pea or a frozen chickpea."

While the actor, 41, was initially concerned as a number of other family members have developed breast cancer, including her mum and her aunt, she decided to wait before confiding in her loved ones in case an ultrasound ruled it was nothing to worry about.

At this stage, Ekanoye says she didn't have a mammogram, as new mums are often told to wait until after breastfeeding before having the procedure, but following two ultrasounds doctors weren't initially worried, suspecting the lump could be due to blocked milk ducts.

However, Ekanoye went on to reveal she found another lump, while on set filming Death in Paradise.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Victoria Ekanoye attends The Inside Soap Awards 2022 on October 17, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Kate Green/Getty Images)
In 2021, Victoria Ekanoye was diagnosed with an early form of breast cancer. (Getty Images)

"It was literally about half an inch away from the first one but it was very definitely two separate lumps," she explains.

Having returned home from filming, the actor contacted her GP who directed her to a one-stop breast clinic where she underwent several tests and stopped breastfeeding in order to have a mammogram.

In October 2021 she was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS), an early form of breast cancer caused when cells within the milk ducts turn cancerous.

Following a double mastectomy, she now hopes to help encourage women and men to check themselves and look out for changes in their bodies.

"Knowledge is power and we can’t possibly not inform the future generations," she explains.

"We are trying to instil hope that cancer isn’t the death sentence people used to fear. The more we talk, the longer we live."

The actor's awareness vow comes after Elizabeth Hurley encouraged women to understand the importance of checking their breasts for lumps earlier this month.

The model and actor, 58, was appearing on Loose Women in order to raise awareness about breast cancer and explained how vital it was that "every woman becomes aware of their own breasts".

Recent statistics from Breast Cancer Now reveal over two in five (44%) women in the UK do not check their breasts regularly for the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.

Image of a woman checking breasts for lumps. (Getty Images)
Around 55,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer annually, so it is important to check your breasts. (Getty Images)

Strictly Come Dancing's Amy Dowden, who is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer, was also diagnosed after making a conscious effort to check her breasts following a fundraising walk she did with charity CoppaFeel! last year.

"CoppaFeel! has now potentially saved my life, because I don't know how long this lump could have been there before I would have noticed and done something about it," the professional dancer, 33, told Hello! magazine. "So me speaking out might end up saving some other people's lives because they start checking their breasts."

How to check your breasts

We all have breast tissue, so all genders should be checking theirs once a month, whether that's in the shower, in bed, or before getting dressed.

While you can follow it in the order that suits you, CoppaFeel! has put together the three most important breast-checking steps.

1. Look

  • Look at your boobs

  • Look at the area from your armpit, across and beneath your boobs, and up to your collarbone

  • Be aware of any changes in size, outline or shape and changes in skin, like puckering or dimpling

You may find it easier to use a mirror, and if you can, look with your arms both raised and down by your sides.

Young woman performing breast cancer self-exam .
First and foremost, it's important to get familiar with what is normal for you. (Getty Images)

2. Feel

  • Feel each of your boobs

  • Feel the area from your armpit, across and beneath your boobs, and up to your collarbone

  • Be aware of any changes in skin like puckering or dimpling, or any lumps, bumps or skin thickening that are different from the opposite side

If you can, you might find it easier to feel with your arms both raised and down by your sides, or lying down

Watch: Linda Evangelista was diagnosed with breast cancer twice in five years

3. Notice your nipples

  • Look at each of your nipples

  • Be aware of any nipple discharge that's not milky, bleeding, rash or crusting that doesn't heal easily and change changes in the position of your nipple

Again, you may find it easier to use a mirror.

Remember that when looking and feeling, you should repeat each step for each side of your breasts.

To help with easily adding self-checks into your routine, you can use Coppafeel!'s regular boob check reminder and to make sure you've covered everything, download its checklist.

When to get help

Doctor doing ultrasound examination of breast of patient in clinic.
If needed, your GP can refer you for further needed tests to rule out breast cancer. (Getty Images)

It's important to become familiar with what's normal for you as everyone's breasts are different, so you can identify any changes more easily. Plus, remember, it's also normal for them to feel more tender and lumpy when on your period, softer when you're post-menopause, or to have one larger than the other.

To familiarise yourself further about what might not be normal, see our useful guide on breast cancer signs and symptoms.

If you notice anything that doesn't feel normal, monitor it for a week, and book an appointment with your doctor.

If in doubt, get it checked out.

For support, you can also call Breast Cancer Now's free helpline on 0808 800 6000.

Breast cancer: Read more