Every year around 50,000 people in the UK find out they have breast cancer. It’s the most common cancer diagnosed in UK women and can affect women of all ethnicities. The vast majority of breast cancers are found by women themselves so taking care of your breasts is really important.
Breast Cancer Care say there’s no right or wrong way of conducting a breast examination and you can make it part of your normal routine. It’s important to decide what you are comfortable with and what suits you best and then look at and feel your breasts regularly. You could do this in the bath or shower, when you use body lotion, or when you get dressed. What’s important is getting to know what is normal for you. You can then feel confident about noticing any unusual breast tissue changes. Breast cancer can affect women of all ages, so women should check their breasts and report any unusual changes to their GP.
Most changes in your breasts won’t turn out to be breast cancer, but if it is breast cancer, then the sooner this is diagnosed, the more effective the treatment may be. Around 70 per cent of women with breast cancer found out they had it by noticing a change in their breasts and talking to someone about it, so it can make a real difference.
Many people say they find it difficult to go to their GP, but if you do notice any changes it’s important you visit your doctor and get yourself checked out as soon as possible. You can always ask to see a female GP if you’d feel more comfortable.
See also: Detecting Ovarian Cancer
Davinia Green, Breast Health Promotion Manager at Breast Cancer Care says, ‘If you feel a bit embarrassed or apprehensive about examining your breasts, it may be reassuring to know that you can make it part of your daily routine, it needn’t be anything to be scared of.’
There’s an easy way to remember how to stay breast aware…
The Breast Awareness 5-point code
1. You should know what is normal for you.
2. Know what changes to look for.
3. Look and feel.
4. Tell your GP about any changes straight away.
5. Go for breast screening when invited.
For information and advice, visit the Breast Cancer Care website at http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk or call their help line, 0808 800 6000.
Guidance issued by the Department of Health, 2009.