October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a global campaign that aims to bring awareness to women’s cancers and educate people on the importance of mammograms for the early detection of breast cancer.
Since the campaign first began in 1985, advances in research, medicine and treatment mean more women than ever are beating breast cancer; today more than eight out of ten people survive breast cancer beyond five years.
But there’s still vital work to be done: from fundraising to education, now is the time to get involved and learn more about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer – you just might help save a life.
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the country. Each year, some 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK. It’s the second most common cause of death from cancer in women in the UK – nearly 12,000 people die from breast cancer each year.
The three biggest risk factors associated with breast cancer are gender, getting older, and family history. More than 80% of breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50.
Screening and self-checks
Current figures estimate 1 in 8 women in the UK will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. When detected early, survival rates are high – the UK’s biggest cancer charity, Breast Cancer Now, believes that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live.
That’s why screening and self-checks are as important as ever. In the UK, women between the ages of 49 and 70 are invited to get a mammographic screening every three years – after that, reminders are no longer sent out and it’s up to the individual to ask their GP for a referral.
Most cases of breast cancer are found by women who notice unusual changes in their breasts; knowing what your breasts look and feel like normally and being on the look out for any changes.
There is no special technique and you don’t need any training to do so – getting in the habit of checking your breasts regularly means you’ll be aware of any changes and can speak to your GP quickly if you have any concerns.
When checking for the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, just remember the acronym TLC.
- Touch your breasts. Can you feel anything unusual?
- Look for changes. Is there any change in shape or texture?
- Check anything unusual with your doctor.
The iconic pink ribbon is the symbol for breast cancer around the world, and during October many reputable breast cancer charities offer special limited edition items for sale to help raise funds for research and treatment.
Will you be taking part in Breast Cancer Awareness Month?