Be Breast Cancer Aware

Be Breast Cancer Aware

Cancer is often a complex, sad and emotional topic to speak about. Whether it is yourself or someone you know, everyone will have heard of breast cancer at some point in their life.

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells, which then go on to form a tumour within the breast tissue. Although breast cancer is most common in women, it can affect men as well.

It is usual for breasts to feel sensitive or tender at specific parts of your menstrual cycle or even during pregnancy. This is due to hormonal changes in your body.

Breast cancer can affect anyone at any stage of life, though some people may have risk factors that may predispose them to breast cancer. Increasing age, lifestyle factors or family history can increase the risk of developing breast cancer. However, these factors do not necessitate that breast cancer will occur.

Breast cancer can start in any part of the breast.

Symptoms of breast cancer

Breast cancer is first noticed as a lump within the breast or near the armpit.

Other symptoms include skin changes (including redness, rash, or eczema), nipple changes (changes in colour, size, position, or sinking inwards into the breast), one breast being larger than the other, or fluid production in the absence of pregnancy or breastfeeding.

If you have a breast lump, it does not necessarily mean that you have breast cancer. Most breast lumps are benign (non-cancerous). It is essential to always get any breast changes or lumps checked by your GG.P

Seeing your doctor

It is always nerve-wracking to go to yoGP.P. and to undergo further tests. Whilst this may feel embarrassing, intrusive or worrying, it is very important that you get yourself tested, even if you feel otherwise well.

Other than cancer, there may be other reasons why you are experiencing your symptoms. Nonetheless, early detection makes the cancer easier to treat, and treatment is more likely to be successful.

NHS Breast Screening Programme

In England, free national breast cancer screening is currently offered to women aged 50 up to their 71st birthday. Screening aims to find breast cancers early, especially those that are small or difficult to see/ feel. This is when they have the best chance of being successfully treated.

Breast cancer screening involves an x-ray of the breast (mammogram). The test involves taking x-rays of the breast. Mammograms do not prevent you from getting breast cancer, and there is a risk that not all cancerous cells are detected, nonetheless it aims to detect early breast cancers.

Women in these age groups will be invited to have a mammogram every three years. Results typically take 2-3 weeks to arrive via post.

If you have not been invited to your mammogram screening or received your breast screening results, contact your breast screening service.

Women at a higher risk of breast cancer

Some women have a higher risk of developing breast cancer due to family history or inheriting a faulty gene. If you are concerned, speak to your GGP. You may be eligible to have screening from a younger age.

Family history of breast cancer

If you have a moderate to high risk of breast cancer, you should start having screening from 40 years onwards.

Breast Self-Exam

You can perform breast self-tests regularly to detect breast cancer early. Although this is not a definitive test, it is a valuable tool to detect breast cancer early.

Adult women are encouraged to perform self-tests at least once a month.

NN.B If menstruating, perform the self-test a couple of days after finishing your period. If post-menopausal, perform a self-test around the same time each month.

Where can I get more information or support for breast cancer?

Against Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Now


Flat Friends UK

Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline

Breast Cancer: The Essential Guide

How To Cope With Breast Cancer When You Have Children: Parenting for Breast Cancer Mums

Be a Survivor – Your Guide to Breast Cancer Treatment (7th edition)

Breast Reconstruction – Your Choice

Breast Screening