Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. The lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is one in nine. Each year there are approximately 41,000 new diagnoses
The incidence of breast cancer for men is on the increase too with approximately 300 new cases diagnosed yearly in the UK. It has been shown that early detection of breast cancer can improve the outcome. Survival rates from breast cancer have improved partly in recent years due to early presentation and from individuals being breast aware.
What Is Breast Awareness?
Breast awareness is a process of knowing what is normal for you and becoming familiar with the appearance of your breasts. It is about being aware of your breasts when carrying out daily activities such as washing and dressing. By looking and feeling and becoming more familiar with your breasts at different times you can become more breast aware. You do not have to examine your breasts in a particular way or at a particular time. Do what feels best for you and make breast awareness a normal part of caring for your body. 90% of cases of breast cancer are detected by women themselves or by their partners. By being breast aware and knowing what is normal for you will be able to detect any changes, should they happen.
Follow the Breast Awareness Five Point Code:
- Know what is normal for you
- Look and feel
- Know what changes to look for
- Report any changes without delay
- Attend for breast screening
The Normal Breast
It is important to know what is normal to expect breasts to feel like and also how they can change throughout your lifetime. Before the menopause breasts feel different at different times of the month, as they are affected by the hormonal changes in the milk producing tissue. For some women their breasts may feel lumpy or tender before a period. After the menopause the breasts will not be affected by monthly hormonal changes and will feel less firm, softer and without lumps. If you have had a hysterectomy your breasts will usually show the same monthly changes until the time when your periods would have stopped.
Changes to Look Out For
When looking at and feeling your breasts be aware of anything that is new for you or that is not normal for you. Look for any changes in the skin, any puckering or dimpling. Look and feel for any lumps or bumps, especially if different from the other breast. Be aware of any pain or discomfort in one breast that does not go away. Also be aware of any changes in your nipples; any discharge, bleeding or rash or any change in the position of your nipple.
It is important to know what sort of changes to look out for, but it is equally important to report them to your doctor / Nurse without delay. They are many reasons for breasts to change and many of them are harmless, but they all need to be checked out. You will not be wasting anybody’s time and the earlier any problems are detected the easier the treatment is likely to be.
Breast Screening Programme
The risk of breast cancer increases with age. 80% of breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50. In Spain, women over the age of 50 are offered routine mammograms to help detect breast changes at a very early stage. Women under the age of 50 are offered breast screening when the need arises. Though we believe that prevention and early detection is your best line of defense.
If this article has raised any concerns for you or you have any questions about the subjects discussed in this article then please do not hesitate to contact us in the strictest confidence.
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