Breast Cancer Awareness Month runs through the duration of October, and the purpose is to raise awareness and raise money for those affected by breast cancer. There are many ways to take part in Breast Cancer Awareness Month, such as spreading the word about breast cancer, helping to raise money, wearing pink or even talking to friends and family.
Around 1 in 8 women in their lifetime are diagnosed with breast cancer. If caught early, there is a very good chance of recovery and the average survival rate as reported by Cancer Research UK is around 76%.
In rare cases, men can also be diagnosed with breast cancer. It is incredibly important for both men and women to regularly check their breasts for any changes, and notify their GP immediately with any changes.
Symptoms of breast cancer
The symptoms of breast cancer can vary from person to person; however, the most common symptom is a new lump or bump in the breast. According to the NHS, many lumps in the breast are not cancerous, but it is incredibly important to get any lumps checked out.
- · A new lump in the breast
- · Hardened breast tissue that was not there before
- · Change in breast size
- · Change in breast shape
- · A lump in the armpit
- · Swelling in the armpit
- · Dimpling of skin on the breast
- · A rash on either or both breasts
- · Sunken nipples
All new symptoms or changes should be discussed with a GP, not matter how big or small.
It is not completely clear what the cause of breast cancer is, which makes it more difficult to predict whether a woman will go on to develop breast cancer or not. However, there are many factors that could potentially increase the risk of breast cancer.
According to the NHS, the risk of breast cancer increases with age. It is reported that 8 out of 10 cases of breast cancer occur in women over 50 and have been through the menopause. Due to this, women between 50 and 70 should be screened for breast cancer every 3 years.
People with close relatives who have had cancer, may be more likely to develop cancer. Whilst most cases of breast cancer are not hereditary, genes known as BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 can increase the risk of developing breast cancer as well as ovarian cancer.
Hormones and Hormone Medicine
Breast cancer cells can sometimes be stimulated by the female hormone oestrogen. Oestrogen is created by the ovaries when puberty begins, which can very slightly increase the risk of cancer when exposed to the increased levels of oestrogen.
The Contraceptive Pill
Women who take the contraceptive pill are slightly more likely to get breast cancer, however stopping the pill should again reduce the risk.
Being overweight could potentially increase the risk of breast cancer. This is thought to be because, being overweight after menopause means that more oestrogen is being produced by the body.
Alcohol consumption is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
The most common treatments for breast cancer are:
- · Surgery
- · Chemotherapy
- · Radiotherapy
- · Targeted Therapy
- · Hormone therapy
The type of treatment may vary from person to person. This could be just one of these treatments or a combination of a few. Any treatments are discussed with the care team, to find the right treatment for the patient’s needs.
These treatments can be very intense on the physical and mental health of the patient. Check out our blog on CBD and Chemotherapy.
Overall, it is important to become familiar with your own body and understand what’s normal for you. Checking yourself regularly and spotting any changes early on could save your life
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