It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we’ve compiled some potentially life-saving information with facts and stats from the UK’s Breast Cancer Care Organisation.
What changes should I look and feel for?
Nobody knows your body like you do, so you’re the best person to notice any unusual changes.
- Changes in size or shape
- Changes in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling
- Inverted nipple
- A lump or thickening of breast tissue
- Redness or a rash on the skin/around the nipple
- Discharge from one or both nipples
- Constant pain in breast or armpit
- Swelling in armpit/around collarbone
There’s an easy way to remember how to stay breast aware…
The Breast Awareness 5-point code
Guidance issued by the Department of Health, 2009.
Taking care of your breasts
Whatever your age, size or shape, it’s important to take care of your breasts.
Every year around 50,000 people in the UK find out they have breast cancer. It’s the most common cancer diagnosed in UK women and can affect women of all ethnicities. The vast majority of breast cancers are found by women themselves so taking care of your breasts is really important.
There’s no right or wrong way of checking your breasts and you can make it part of your normal routine. It’s important to decide what you are comfortable with and what suits you best and then look at and feel your breasts regularly. You could do this in the bath or shower, when you use body lotion, or when you get dressed. What’s important is getting to know what is normal for you. You can then feel confident about noticing any unusual changes. Breast cancer can affect women of all ages, so women should check their breasts and report any unusual changes throughout their life.
Most changes in your breasts won’t turn out to be breast cancer, but if it is breast cancer, then the sooner this is diagnosed, the more effective the treatment may be. Around 70% of women with breast cancer found out they had it by noticing a change in their breasts and talking to someone about it, so it can make a real difference.
Many people say they find it difficult to go to their GP, but if you do notice any changes it’s important you visit your doctor and get yourself checked out as soon as possible. You can always ask to see a female GP if you’d feel more comfortable. If you’re asked to screening, all screening staff are women too.
If you have any questions about breast health or screening, Breast Cancer Care’s free, confidential helpline is there to help. The helpline has access to an interpreter if you’d rather speak in a language other than English – call 0808 800 6000. Or if you’d prefer, the Breast Cancer Care website has loads of information, visitwww.breastcancercare.org.uk.
Davinia Green, Breast Health Promotion Manager at Breast Cancer Care says: “If you feel a bit embarrassed or apprehensive about checking your breasts, it may be reassuring to know that you can make it part of your daily routine, it needn’t be anything to be scared of. If you get to know what’s normal for you, it’s much easier to notice if something isn’t right and then it’s important to talk to your doctor. Don’t be scared of talking to your GP or delay going, as the earlier diagnosis may lead to simpler treatments options.”
For free, confidential support and information visit www.breastcancercare.org.uk or call our Helpline on 0808 800 6000.