Elizabeth Hurley reveals she saved friends' lives by encouraging them to check for breast cancer

Watch: Elizabeth Hurley reveals how she helped to save her friends' lives.

Elizabeth Hurley has revealed how she helped saved two of her friends' lives by encouraging them to check for breast cancer.

The model and actor, 56, tragically lost her grandmother to breast cancer and has been campaigning to raise awareness ever since.

Appearing on Good Morning Britain, Hurley explained that she often posts on her social media platform about the importance of checking your breasts for changes.

She went on to say that the sharing of these health messages had contributed to two of her girl friends getting an earlier diagnosis of breast cancer.

"I shared a post on Instagram about self-checking," she told hosts Richard Madeley and Susanna Reid.

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Elizabeth Hurley has been campaigning to raise awareness about breast cancer, pictured in October 2019. (Getty Images)
Elizabeth Hurley has been campaigning to raise awareness about breast cancer, pictured in October 2019. (Getty Images)

"Two friends, both in their 40s, who had not checked themselves, they both checked after seeing my Instagram and two of them found lumps and went to the doctor, two were diagnosed with breast cancer and two have gone through treatment.

"They're fine because they found it very early. They found a lump themselves, but they actually wouldn’t have self-checked had they not seen the Instagram that I did on behalf of our campaign.

"So, just hearing that alone makes you think, please ladies, start to check."

Susanna Reid replied: "The irony is you don’t want to check because you don’t want to find anything. Bottom line is, that’s why people don’t check isn’t it? And yet if you find something, you're more likely to survive."

Hurley concluded: "Exactly."

Earlier in the interview the model had explained that after finding a lump she did not seek medical help for around a year because she was "scared" and "embarrassed".

Read more: How and when to check your breasts

She explained that it may have been a different outcome for her grandmother if she had been diagnosed today, rather than in the early 1990s when people didn't talk about it so much.

She went on to urge women to check their breasts more because if breast cancer is discovered early you're more likely to survive.

Watch: Elizabeth Hurley on raising breast cancer awareness and having fun with her bikini snaps.

Hurley is a global ambassador for The Estée Lauder Companies' Breast Cancer Campaign and explained that women should self-examine once a month and at the same time of every month.

She recommended picking a date and then setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to examine your breasts for changes on that date.

"Doctors say if you familiarise yourself with your breasts, which are very different, and every month check you'll notice a difference, you'll notice they look different in the mirror, or they feel different. And that is the time to attempt to go to your doctor and have it checked out," she says.

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Elizabeth Hurley has been encouraging women to check their breasts for cancer, pictured in September 2021. (Getty Images)
Elizabeth Hurley has been encouraging women to check their breasts for cancer, pictured in September 2021. (Getty Images)

Breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in women under 30 in the UK (with 181 new cases every year and around 12 deaths).

While it is much more common in older women, around 5,000 women under the age of 45 are diagnosed with it every year in the UK.

How often should we be checking our breasts?

Coppafeel! recommends that checking your breasts should become a monthly habit.

"By checking on a regular basis, you will also build the confidence of knowing what is normal for you each month. Everyone has to start somewhere, so don’t worry if you’re not feeling confident straight away," the charity explains.

Read more: One in five women unlikely to visit doctor with breast health concerns

How to check your breasts

The NHS recommends doing your monthly check in the bath or shower, using the soapy water to make the process a little easier to spot anything out of the ordinary.

You can also look at your breasts in the mirror. Look with your arms by your side and also with them raised.

Feeling your armpits should be a key part of your monthly check, too.

The NHS Breast Screening Programme has produced a five-point plan, making it easier than ever to know what you’re looking out for.

The five simple points are:

  • Know what's normal for you

  • Look at your breasts and feel them

  • Know what changes to look for

  • Report any changes without delay

  • Attend routine screening if you're 50 or over

Signs and symptoms of breast cancer

The NHS website advises people to see a GP if they notice any of these symptoms:

  • A change in the size, outline or shape of your breast

  • A change in the look or feel of the skin on your breast, such as puckering or dimpling, a rash or redness

  • A new lump, swelling, thickening or bumpy area in one breast or armpit that was not there before

  • A discharge of fluid from either of your nipples

  • Any change in nipple position, such as your nipple being pulled in or pointing differently

  • A rash (like eczema), crusting, scaly or itchy skin or redness on or around your nipple

  • Any discomfort or pain in one breast, particularly if it's a new pain and does not go away (although pain is only a symptom of breast cancer in rare cases)