EVERY year 250 women in Chester are diagnosed with breast cancer, receiving care and treatment at the Countess of Chester's Ursula Keyes Breast Care Centre.
The centre opened in April 2003 after the hospital's largest ever appeal raised more than £1.2m.
During Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, breast care specialist nurse Nicky Probert says it is important for women to be alert to changes in their breasts.
She said: 'Many women are confused at what is meant by breast awareness. Basically it can be summed up in the simple phrase 'Don't ignore it!'
'Be aware of your breasts when washing and dressing and report anything new to your doctor.'
Changes that should be reported include a change in breast size, a nipple that has become inverted or changed its position or shape, a rash on or around the nipple and nipple discharges.
Look out for puckering or dimpling of the skin, a swelling of lymph nodes under your armpit and around the collarbone, a lump or thickening that feels different from the rest of the breast tissue or pain in one part of your breast or the armpit.
Women should not worry about making an un-necessary fuss if they detect a change.
'Women are not 'being silly' if they bring something to their doctor's attention that turns out to be normal,' said Miss Probert.
'It is important to remember that early detection remains the best chance of cure for this disease.'
Some women at the hospital have entered clinical trials to test treatments, such as trials looking at screening high-risk groups for breast cancer and at ways to prevent women getting breast cancer.
The unit is shortly to begin performing sentinel node biopsy. Miss Probert explains: 'This is a smaller operation on the armpit, which no longer involves removal of all the nodes, and reduces the side effects of surgery for breast cancer.
'Many for whom this procedure is appropriate will be able to have their operation as a day case.' The Breast Cancer Support Group meets at the beginning of every month at the Countess of Chester to discuss diet, fatigue or family history and the breast care nurses are on hand to discuss any concerns a woman might have. For details, contact the Breast Care nurses on 01244 363256.