19 Oct

Around 50,000 women are still diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and around 12,000 women die of the disease each year.

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The earlier a breast cancer is diagnosed, the easier it is likely to be to treat it and the better the chance of cure.

Breast awareness
In the UK every woman between the ages of 50 and 70 is invited for a mammogram every 3 years as part of the UK NHS breast cancer screening programme. In England, the screening programme is currently extending the age range for breast screening from 47 to 73.

Even with the breast screening programme, many breast tumours are first spotted by women themselves. This may be because the woman is too young to have been screened. Or it may be because she is no longer getting invitations from the screening programme because she is over 70. Or it could be that a breast cancer starts to cause symptoms between mammograms (known as an interval cancer).

What to look for
Being breast aware simply means getting to know how your breasts normally look and feel at different times of the month. If you notice a change that isn’t normal for you, talk it over with your doctor and ask for a referral to the breast clinic.

You don’t need to examine your breasts every day or even every week. But it is important to know how your breasts normally feel, and how that changes with your periods. Some women have lumpier breasts around the time of a period. If this is the same in both breasts, don’t worry. But check your breasts again the following month, a few days after your period is over. If the lumpiness comes and goes with your menstrual cycle, it is nothing to worry about.

It is easiest to check your breasts in the shower or bath. Run a soapy hand over each breast and up under your arm.

The NHS breast awareness five point code says

    • Know what is normal for you
    • Look and feel
    • Know what changes to look for
    • Report any changes without delay
    • Attend for breast screening if you are aged 50 or over

      You are checking for changes in the size, shape or feel of your breast. This could mean a lump or thickening anywhere in the breast. Most people naturally have one breast bigger than the other. It is a change in size or shape that you need to watch out for.

      Symptoms of breast cancer
      What to look out for
      Changes that could be due to a breast cancer are

    • A lump or thickening in an area of the breast
    • A change in the size or shape of a breast
    • Dimpling of the skin
    • A change in the shape of your nipple, particularly if it turns in, sinks into the breast, or has an irregular shape
    • A blood stained discharge from the nipple
    • A rash on a nipple or surrounding area
    • A swelling or lump in your armpit

Like breast lumps, these signs don’t necessarily mean cancer. Inverted nipples, blood stained nipple discharge or a rash can all be due to other medical conditions. But if any of these things happen to you, you need to get it checked out. It is most likely to be a benign condition that can easily be treated and seeing the GP will put your mind at rest. But if it does turn out to be a cancer you give yourself the best chance of successful treatment by going to the doctor early on.

If you want to know more about breast cancer, including symptoms, risk factors, causes, and preventing breast cancer. Screening and diagnosis of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and breast cancer, including mammograms, ultrasound and biopsy. Treatment information includes surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiotherapy, biological therapy, research, and clinical trials. Coping with breast cancer information includes managing after surgery, coping with menopausal symptoms, and breast cancer in pregnancy. Lastly, a section about breast cancer that has spread, including treatments and coping with secondary breast cancer.
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Posted by on October 19, 2013 in Training and Advice


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