October is breast cancer awareness month.
It is important to know what is normal for you and to recognise the signs of breast cancer for early diagnosis.
Breast Cancer Now, a new charity formed by the merger of Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now creating the UK’s first comprehensive breast cancer charity, shares what you should be aware of.
Touch, Look, Check
Everyone’s breasts are different, and can change with age and at different times of the month. No one knows your body better than you, so it’s important to get to know how your breasts normally look and feel so it will be easier to spot if there are any unusual changes.
Most breast changes won’t be cancer but it’s important to report anything different or new to your doctor as soon as possible and get it checked out. The sooner breast cancer is diagnosed, the more effective treatment may be.
There’s no right or wrong way to check your breasts, it’s as simple as TLC; Touch, Look, Check. It could be when you get dressed, or when you’re bathing, showering or putting on moisturiser – just as long as you do it regularly and remember to check the whole breast and the surrounding area, including the upper chest and armpits.
What should I look out for?
Most cases of breast cancer are found by women noticing unusual changes, taking the initiative and visiting their doctor.
Common breast cancer signs and symptoms include:
- A lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit. You might feel the lump, but not see it.
- Changes in the size or shape of the breast
- A change in skin texture i.e. puckering or dimpling of the skin
- A change in the colour of the breast - the breast may look red or inflamed
- Rash, crusting or changes to the nipple
- Any unusual discharge from either nipple
On Friday, October 18 the charity is asking people to Wear it Pink.
One of the UK’s biggest fundraising events, the event has had an enormous impact on the lives of those affected by breast cancer since launching in 2002 and has raised more than £33 million for breast cancer research to date.
Anyone can take part in wear it pink. Some people will choose to hold a cake sale, while others will opt to organise a raffle and some will arrange a pink fancy dress day at their
school or workplace. No matter how people chose to wear it pink, all the money raised will help to fund vital breast cancer research and support.
Becca from Crawley is supporting wear it pink, after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017.
Becca said: “Since I was diagnosed, I've become aware of so many other families that have been affected by this devastating disease. Mums, daughters, sisters, aunties and more. I’ve already lost two friends to breast cancer and two more are living with a secondary, incurable diagnosis.
“I had a very aggressive form of breast cancer, so without scientific research and advances in breast cancer, my prognosis could have been very different. I have been supported all the way through my journey, and now I feel the need to channel my energy into something positive.”
In 2018 more than 19,000 people registered to take part in wear in pink, raising an incredible £1.6m. The charity hopes to beat this total in 2019.
Lottie Barnden, head of mass participation at Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now, said: “Every year in the UK, around 55,000 women and around 350 men are given the devastating news that they have breast cancer. Despite great strides in research, around 11,500 women and 80 men still die from breast cancer every year – that’s nearly one death every 45 minutes.
“We currently fund around a third of all breast cancer research happening in the UK, and last year we responded to nearly 7 million breast cancer support requests. Without the
generosity of wear it pink supporters we simply cannot continue to fund this crucial research and support, for all those affected by breast cancer now, and in the future.
“That is why we are urging everyone across the UK to get involved in wear it pink on Friday, October 18 to help us make life-saving breast cancer research and life-changing support
The charities merged earlier this year (April 2019), united by the shared ambition that, by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer will live and be supported to live well.
The new charity, which retains the name Breast Cancer Now, launches with a new brand identity and proposition that draws on the strengths of its legacy organisations whilst creating a strong brand for the future, to help maintain and grow its income and impact.
To find out more about the signs and symptoms of the disease visit breastcancernow.org/tlc
Anyone looking for support or information can call Breast Cancer Now’s free Helpline on 0808 800 6000.