Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK – and the most common form of cancer in women. One in eight women suffer from it at some point in their lives – in the UK that’s over 55,000 women diagnosed every year. (Men can also get breast cancer though it’s much rarer) An additional 7,400 women are diagnosed yearly with an earlier, non-invasive form. Tragically, too many women are still dying from it.
The risk factor
One of the major risk factors is age – most women diagnosed are over 50 – and we can’t do much about that. But fortunately, the other risks can be managed. Keep active, maintain a healthy weight, avoid alcohol, tobacco and saturated fats, and you’ll slash those risks. For some great lifestyle tips on reducing your chances of getting cancer, take a look at Macmillan’s website. And remember, the good news is that, caught early, there’s every chance of recovery from breast cancer.
October’s the month
This October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – thousands of organisations join forces to mount a global campaign raising awareness about breast cancer and promoting education and research. It’s also about raising money to fund that vital life-saving research and to provide the life-changing support that people living with breast cancer need.
Wear it Pink
22nd October is Wear it Pink Day. All over the world people will be wearing pink to show their commitment to eradicating breast cancer and to making sure women have access to information about it – wherever they are in the world. To make your contribution, all you need to do is pop over to the website, wear something pink and go and raise some money – even a tiny bit helps. There are tons of fundraising ideas on their website – whether you’ll be fundraising at work, school or among friends and family.
Signs and symptoms
The earlier breast cancer is caught, the better the chances of successful treatment. So, it’s critical you check your breasts regularly for any changes, particularly if you are over fifty. There are no special skills involved but do make sure you check your upper chest and under your armpits. Common symptoms include:
- A lump or swelling in your breast, upper chest or armpit. You might feel the lump, but not see it.
- Changes in the size or shape of your breast
- A change in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling of the skin
- A change in the colour of your breast – it may look red or inflamed
- A rash, crusting or changes to one or other of your nipples
- Any unusual discharge from either nipple.
- Although pain in either or both breasts isn’t normally a sign of cancer, it may be if there are other symptoms. Also, be on the lookout for any persistent pain.
You can also download a fabulous Breast Check Now app from Breast Cancer Now – so why not make breast checking part of your regular routine?