With one person diagnosed every 10 minutes – breast cancer remains one of the most common forms of cancer. Despite this, only 30% of women aged 18-29 years old check their breasts monthly and, even more worryingly; ⅓ state that they would immediately visit their doctor upon discovering the early signs.
The aim of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to help women understand how to examine their breasts for the signs and symptoms of cancer. With many reluctant to overload their GP or worried about having to attend a hospital appointment due to the risk of catching coronavirus; there’s never been a more important time to raise awareness.
Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms
There are many different signs and symptoms of breast cancer, so regularly checking for anything different or new is of the utmost importance. The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of successful treatment.
Common breast cancer signs and symptoms include:
- A lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit – you might feel the lump but not see it
- A change to the skin, such as puckering or dimpling
- A change in the colour of the breast – the breast may look red or inflamed
- A change to the nipple, for example it has become pulled in (inverted)
- Rash or crusting around the nipple
- Any unusual liquid (discharge) from either nipple
- Changes in size or shape of the breast
If you observe any of the listed changes, then contact your GP immediately.
Breast Cancer Survivorship
Breast cancer survival is improving and has doubled in the past 40 years in the UK due to a combination of improvements in treatment and care, earlier detection through screening and a focus on targets, including faster diagnosis.
Almost 9 in 10 (85%) of women survive breast cancer for 5 years or more, whilst an estimated 600,000 people are alive in the UK after a diagnosis of breast cancer. This is predicted to rise to 1.2 million in 2030. For many the overwhelming emotional and physical effects of the disease can be long-lasting.
COVID-19: is it safe to visit my GP?
5,000 women will develop breast cancer this month and tragically, many of them will be deterred from visiting their GPs due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is therefore important to understand that surgeries have instated every possible measure to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmissions.
With staff wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), appointments being more spaced out to ensure that waiting areas are quieter and convenient hand sanitisation stations throughout each building; you can feel secure knowing that healthcare workers are striving to create a COVID-secure environment.
When attending your screening, it’s important to remember the following:
- Wear a face covering during your appointment
- Arrive for your appointment as close to the scheduled time as possible
- Do not bring anyone with you, if possible
- The screening test (mammogram) will be the same as normal.
- Do not go to your appointment if:
- You are self-isolating
- You have any symptoms of Covid-19
Breast Cancer Care at PE1
For months, the coronavirus put Breast Cancer Now’s world-class research, life-changing community support services and much of its fundraising in suspended animation. Emerging from lockdown – the team at PE1’s Breast Cancer Care Shop are working hard to make up for the lost time; stocking the shelves with fantastic donations – helping fuel breast cancer research and care. The store is open every day Monday to Saturday 10:00 -17:00 and Sunday 10:00 -16:00.
By donating your unwanted items to a Breast Cancer Care Shop, the money raised from their sale will be turned into support for families affected by breast cancer.
The shop are always searching for jewellery, unwanted gifts in their original packaging and any unusual items that you think may sell. Regretfully, they can’t accept underwear, used electrical items, used bedding, soft furnishings, books and CDs (unless they are rare items).
To find out more about Breast Cancer Awareness Month.