Purpose: To describe women's help seeking behaviour (HSB) and the associated influencing factors on self-discovery of a breast symptom.Methods: A descriptive, correlational survey design was used. Following ethical approval, survey data were collected from women (n = 449) attending the breast clinics of two large urban hospitals within the Republic of Ireland.Results: The majority of women (69.9%; n = 314) sought help (by visiting their General practitioner, GP) within one month, 30.1% (n = 135) delayed help seeking for more than one month following symptom discovery and 16.7% (n = 75) delayed for three months or more. The factors most significantly associated with delayed HSB were knowledge around symptom identity (Odds Ratio (OR) = 4.80, p = 0.005); ignoring the symptom and hoping it would go away (OR = 10.72, p < 0.001) and women's belief that the symptom would persist for a long time (OR = 1.18, p = 0.023). Being afraid on symptom discovery (OR = 0.37, p = 0.005) was associated with reduced risk of delayed HSB.Conclusions: It is encouraging to see that the majority of women who find a breast symptom seek help promptly. However, a small cohort of women delay seeking help from their GP. HSB is influenced by multiple factors which can impact on patient outcomes. Findings are important for oncology nurses who have a key role to play in promoting breast awareness, prompt help seeking and early detection and treatment of breast cancer, amongst women. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.