Raising awareness to beat breast cancer

8 Oct 2021 10:54
Published by: Scott Callan

OCTOBER is Breast Cancer Awareness Month - a chance to raise funds and to talk about the most common cancer in the UK.

Across the country there are some 55,200 new breast cancer cases every year - around 150 every day, according to Cancer Research UK.

Here are some facts surrounding breast cancer, courtesy of Breast Cancer Now breastcancernow.org

What are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer?

There are many different signs and symptoms of breast cancer, so regularly checking your breasts for anything different or new is important.

The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of successful treatment. Getting to know what your breasts look and feel like normally means it's easier to spot any unusual changes and check them with your doctor.

Common breast cancer signs and symptoms include:

  • A lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit. You might feel the lump, but not see it
  • Changes in the size or shape of the breast
  • A change in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling of the skin
  • A change in the colour of the breast - the breast may look red or inflamed
  • Rash, crusting or changes to the nipple
  • Any unusual discharge from either nipple

Research led by Breast Cancer Now in 2018 found that less than half of British women surveyed were regularly checking their breasts, while almost one in ten (8%) had never checked at all.

The most common reasons women cited for not checking their breasts regularly were because they forget (41 per cent) and 21 per cent said they didn't check their breasts regularly because they don't feel confident in checking.

Checking your breasts only takes a few minutes. Everyone will have their own way of touching and looking for changes, but remember to check the whole breast area, including your upper chest and armpits.

There's no special technique and you don't need training. It's as simple as TLC: Touch Look Check.

What can cause breast cancer?

There are many different factors that can affect your chances of developing breast cancer. There's no one single reason - it results from a combination of the way we live our lives, our genes and our surrounding environment.

What can I do to reduce my risk of breast cancer?

Everyone can take steps to lower their chances of getting breast cancer by making small healthy changes and living well now, including drinking less alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight and keeping physically active.

What breast cancer risk factors can't I change?

Some factors are outside our control, including:

  • Being a woman - 99 per cent of new cases of breast cancer are in women
  • Getting older - 80 per cent of breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50. Most men who get breast cancer are over 60
  • A family history of breast cancer - if you have a family history of breast cancer, you and some other members of your family may have a higher than average risk of developing the disease, however, there may be some ways you can manage your risk

For more information, visit familyhistory.breastcancernow.org

How many people develop breast cancer?

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK with one woman diagnosed every 10 minutes.

Around 55,000 women and 370 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK.

One in seven women in the UK will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

What develops breast cancer?

Eight out of 10 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women aged 50 and over.

One-quarter of cases are diagnosed in women aged 75 and over. Just over 10,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 50 every year in the UK. Of those, nearly 8,000 women will be in their 40s.

Around 2,200 women in the UK are diagnosed aged 39 or under, or just four per cent of all cases. Breast cancer in men is rare with just 370 new cases in the UK each year, compared to around 55,000 new cases in women.

How many people survive breast cancer?

Almost nine in 10 women survive breast cancer for five years or more.

Breast cancer survival is improving and has doubled in the past 40 ears in the UK due to a combination of improvements in treatment and care, earlier detection through screening and a focus on targets, including fast diagnosis.

An estimated 600,000 people are alive in the UK after a diagnosis of breast cancer. This is predicted to rise to 1.2 million in 2030. For many the overwhelming emotional and physical effects of the disease can be long-lasting.

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