The Breast Cancer Awareness movement that we know, love and champion today was started in 1992. The creator Evelyn H. Lauder, of Estée Lauder, made a bold move creating the campaign to promote equality in women’s health and spotlight breast cancer as threat to female wellbeing.
To this day, we celebrate breast cancer awareness month in October. Question is, do you really know how to ‘coppa feel’, and what signs or symptoms you are looking for. Let’s become breast friends and talk all things boobs.
Each year in the UK, there are approximately 56,000 new cases of breast cancer, of which 11,500 lead to death. That being said , breast cancer has one of the highest survival rates, with 76% of people originally diagnosed with cancer go onto survive 10 years post their diagnosis. have come on leaps and bounds. In the 1970s, 4 in 10 women survived their breast cancer diagnosis beyond 10 years, conversely, now it's around 8 in 10.
There are a number of factors that are in your control, and sadly out of your control that can contribute to the development of breast cancer. These include:
- Increased age
- The age of menarche
- Ethnicity – Caucasian
- Not having children
- Taking the contraceptive pill
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Alcohol intake
- Taking hormone replacement therapy
- Large changes in sex hormones
- Previous cancer
- Having children later in life
- Having the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene
Development of Breast Cancer
There are 4 stages of breast cancer, each getting more severe with each stage:
This is the earliest stage of breast cancer. The cancer will be small, typically 2cm or less in size. At this stage, the cancer is in the breast and could be near the lymph nodes close the breast tissue.
This is still an early stage of breast cancer. The cancer will be increased in size, larger than stage one but no larger than 5cm. The cancer will be found in the lymph nodes or in the breast tissue.
This is the stage in which the cancer has spread from the breast to the lymph nodes, skin of the breast, or the chest wall. Typically stage 3 cancers are larger than 5cm.
Finally, this means the cancer has travelled to other parts of the body.
Symptoms to be aware of
Remember that all of us have breast tissue, and breast cancer isn’t a female-only disease. All men and women need to be aware of the following signs and symptoms.
- A change in texture of the skin on the chest
- A change in appearance of the skin on the chest
- A lump or swelling in the armpit
- A change in shape of the breast
- A change in size of the breast
- Discharge from the nipple
- Change in appearance of the nipple
- Change in texture around the nipple
- A rash or flaky skin around the nipple
How to check your breasts
- According to the CoppaFeel charity, here are some steps on how to check yourself for breast cancer.
- First get to know what normal feels like for you.
- Check regularly and note what normal feels like for you.
- Month-month check your breast tissue for changes in texture, density, size, shape or the presence of any lumps.
- Remember that breast tissue isn’t just in the breast or chest. Remember to check under your armpits and up to your collar bone.
- Remember to check at least each month, if you notice any changes described above, monitor it for a week to note any further changes and then contact your GP if you are concerned.
How often should you have a mammogram?
In the UK, you will automatically be invited into the breast screening, or mammogram, every 3 years between the ages of 50 and 53. The scan only takes a few minutes, and the full appointment just 30 minutes.
For more information on breast cancer click the following link to take you to the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/breast-cancer/