October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in the UK
The first symptom of breast cancer most women notice is a lump or an area of thickened tissue in their breast.
Most breast lumps (90%) aren’t cancerous, but it’s always best to have them checked by your doctor.
You should see your GP if you notice any of the following:
The main risk factors of breast cancer are:
- a new lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast that was not there before
- a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
- bloodstained discharge from either of your nipples
- a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
- dimpling on the skin of your breasts
- a rash on or around your nipple
- a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast.
Breast cancer diagnosis
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, one person is diagnosed every 10 minutes.
1 in 8 women in the UK will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
This Breast Cancer Awareness Month around 5,000 people will be diagnosed.
Breast cancer and survivor-ship
Breast cancer survival is improving and has doubled in the last forty years in the UK.
Almost nine in 10 women survive breast cancer for five more or years.
An estimated 691,000 are alive in the UK after a diagnosis of breast cancer. This is predicted to rise to 840,000 in 2020. For many the overwhelming emotional and physical effects of the disease can be long-lasting.
A Breast Cancer Care survey found 1 in 4 women (26%) find the end of treatment the hardest part of breast cancer and only one in 10 (10%) say they felt positive and ready to move on when they were discharged from hospital treatment. More than half (53%) struggled with anxiety at the end of treatment and nearly a third (31%) with depression.
Every year around 11,400 people die from breast cancer in the UK.
Breast cancer signs and symptoms
Knowing the signs and symptoms of breast cancer can lead to diagnosing the cancer sooner. This can be crucial in providing more effective treatment and, ultimately, saving lives. A recent Breast Cancer Care survey found that around a third of women (33%) aren’t regularly checking their breasts. A fifth of women (20%) say it’s because they don’t know how to check their breasts.
Breast cancer doesn’t always mean a lump. Other less well known symptoms include a nipple becoming inverted or a change in texture of the skin.
Breast cancer and younger women
Around 5,600 women aged 45 and under are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK.
A Breast Cancer Care survey found just over half (53%) of younger women diagnosed with breast cancer have no discussion with healthcare professionals about fertility preservation options, which include freezing embryos or eggs.
Breast cancer and men
Breast cancer in men is very rare with just 390 new cases in the UK each year, compared to nearly 55,000 new cases in women.
More than half (55%) of male breast cancer deaths in the UK are in men aged 75 and over.
A Breast Cancer Care survey found nearly three-quarters (73%) of men don’t check their breasts for signs and symptoms of breast cancer, even though the same number (73%) know that men can get the disease.
Secondary breast cancer
Secondary breast cancer is when breast cancer cells spread to other parts of the body, most commonly the bones, brain, lungs or liver. It cannot be cured but it can be treated, sometimes for a number of years.
Two thirds (66%) of Hospital Trusts in England do not know how many of their patients have incurable secondary breast cancer, according to Breast Cancer Care findings. It’s estimated there are around 36,000 people in the UK living with the disease, but with such incomplete data collection, we can’t be sure.
Close to half (42%) of NHS Trusts and Health Boards surveyed by Breast Cancer Care do not provide specialist nursing care for people with incurable breast cancer.
For care, support and information, please contact
Breast Cancer Care’s free Helpline on 0808 800 6000
Cancer research 0808 800 4040
Macmillan 0808 808 00 00
Disclaimer: I am not medically qualified if you have any concerns please speak to your GP or call the numbers listed above.
Eva Lily x