Go pink for breast cancer awareness month

Posted by Heather Doggett on 03 October 2019

As I write this, I am 3 days post yet another birthday (and as such, a substantial amount of cake!).  This one will take me on to my ‘every third year’ mammogram year.  As a service delivered by the West Suffolk Hospital, I can only praise the ease and efficiency with which it is run.  The only marginally distressing thing about the whole process is how young the radiographers look – and that is totally a reflection on me and not them – they are both friendly and professional and are exceptional at putting you at ease whilst they squidge your boobs into the machine for those few vital seconds of picture taking!  All I can say is that if you are of an age, please make sure you go and get your mammogram.

Why….?

 Well, breast cancer continues to be the most common cause of cancer in the UK.  The main risk factors for breast cancer are the ones that you cannot change – being a woman, getting older and having certain gene changes.

Self-detection remains a key method of breast cancer detection and whilst much of the increase in survival has been attributed to screening mammography, almost half of breast cancer survivors reported a detection method other than mammographic examination.  Women often detect breast cancer themselves either by self-examination or by accident.

It remains vital that checking your breasts becomes habit.  Breast self-examination helps you to be familiar with how your breasts look and feel so that you can alert your healthcare professional if there are any changes.

Signs and symptoms of breast cancer:

  • A change in size or shape of the breast
  • A lump or thickening that feels different from the rest of the breast tissue
  • Redness or a rash on the skin and/or around the nipple
  • A change in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling – this can be very subtle
  • Discharge (liquid) that comes from the nipple without squeezing
  • Nipple becoming inverted or changing its position or shape
  • A swelling in the armpit or around the collarbone
  • Constant pain in the breast or armpit

What to do if you find a change:

 Most changes are likely to be normal or due to a benign (not cancer) breast condition

  • If you notice a change, visit a GP as soon as possible
  • A GP may feel there is no need for further investigation or may refer you to a breast clinic
  • If you do not feel comfortable with a male GP, ask if there is a female GP available

REMEMBER….

90% of breast lumps are not cancerous

Breast pain is generally not a sign of breast cancer

 

A WORD FOR THE BOYS

Breast cancer in men is rare. Around 350 men are diagnosed with the disease each year in the UK compared with around 50,000 women.

Checking your breast tissue regularly is especially important for men who have a family history of breast cancer or a genetic condition called Klinefelter’s Syndrome.

Most breast tissue in men is concentrated in the area directly behind the nipple and the surrounding pigmented area, called the areola.

Most – though not all – breast cancers in men appear near the nipple as firm lumps.

Men and boys can sometimes develop more breast tissue than normal due to a condition called gynaecomastia. This is not related to cancer.

Breast cancer in men is diagnosed using much the same approach as diagnosis in women.

For more information visit:

https://www.nhs.uk/be-clear-on-cancer/symptoms/breast-cancer

https://breastcancernow.org/

https://www.cancerresearchuk.org

Alison Lambert

Occupational Health Advisor