In case you didn’t know, this month is breast cancer awareness month. It’s a subject close to my heart because my own mum was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago now. Luckily she made a full recovery, and thanks to cancer research, when the signs are spotted in time the survival rate for a breast cancer diagnosis is one of the highest among all cancers. When spotted and treated quickly, the treatment process can actually be relatively simple and straightforward, but it’s so important that we all check our breasts regularly so we can spot any red flags that might come up.
Because we are generally more aware of what to look for when checking our breasts and more people check their breasts regularly than ever before, the survival rate has jumped from 50% in 1970 to 85% in 2018. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed in their lifetime but thankfully 691,000 are still alive today after their awful diagnosis.
A lot more info has been widespread lately about what we should all be looking for when checking our breasts, but are we really sure what we should be on the lookout for on a regular basis? It’s best to check your breasts as often as you can so that you get more accustomed to how they feel on a day to day basis and at different times during the month – this will be the easiest way to know if something is wrong. Everyone’s breasts will feel different with different lumps and bumps but the most important thing to look out for is any actual changes in your breasts. If you feel a new lump or something doesn’t look quite right it’s always better to be safe than sorry and make an appointment with your GP.
While you may think that odd and brand new lumps in your breasts might be the only sure sign of breast cancer. There are lots of other things to look out for. Everyone is different so any change in your breasts could either be harmless or a sign of a more serious problem. Things to definitely look out for:
- Inverted nipples. Around 10% of the population has naturally inverted nipples but if one of yours suddenly becomes inverted for no reason, it’s always best to check this with a doctor.
- Leaking nipples. Unless you are pregnant or breastfeeding, any discharge from your nipples is usually not seen as normal. Make sure you get this checked with your GP.
- One breast a lot larger than the other. Our boobs aren’t usually exactly the same size, but if one starts to get noticeably larger than the other then this could be a sign of breast cancer.
- Breast changing shape. Over time with age as well as throughout your menstrual cycle, breasts can change shape and feel fuller or softer. However, if one of your breasts is seriously out of shape or you notice a change in the shape of them, make sure you get a second opinion as this could be a sign of cancer.
As with all health concerns, if you’re simply not sure it’s always better to be safe than sorry and get your problem checked out by your doctor. If you’re concerned about the dangers of breast cancer and want to reduce your risk then there are some things you can do. A lot of it is down to genetics, and if you have larger breasts then you are more likely to get cancer simply due to them having a larger surface area in which cancer cells are able to form. However, living an active healthy lifestyle including regular exercise and minimal alcohol and smoking will help to decrease your risk and improve your long-term health.
There are several treatment options for breast cancer. Which one a person has depends on how early the cancer is caught, your health and whether you have experienced the menopause. Surgery is usually the first treatment option that is explored, with radiotherapy and chemotherapy being the next most likely options if surgery isn’t possible or effective. All of these treatment options are available through the NHS.
The LOC specialises in treating patients with breast cancer, and also in getting an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible. Not only do they offer regular breast screenings and specialised appointments for people who are concerned about symptoms, but if you are diagnosed they can offer world-class support and treatments including surgeries, reconstructive surgeries, treatment with medicines and also genetic testing.
So, if you’re worried about any symptoms in yourself or a loved one, make sure you make an appointment with a doctor to get yourself checked. It’s always better to be safe and sorry and to monitor your symptoms with the health of a professional. Make sure that you’re checking your breasts at least once a month so you can catch any changes or symptoms before it’s too late.