October sees the start of breast cancer awareness month. The aim is to drive support for people affected by breast cancer. To raise awareness and help early detection of the condition. The campaign promotes the work being done all over the world. To care for and support those affected by breast cancer and work towards a future free from the condition.
This year Breast Cancer Awareness month takes on even more significance than in previous years due to the impact of COVID-19. Many areas of research, treatment and early detection have been reduced or paused. Now more than ever before people, communities and companies not just across the UK but the entire world are being asked to help play a part towards in putting breast cancer back in people’s minds.
The figures for England make worrying reading for what is the most common form of cancer in women. One woman is diagnosed on average, every ten minutes and around 55,000 cases diagnosed every year. Men are also at risk with around 370 cases annually.
The positive news is that there is a greater awareness of breast cancer. Combined with earlier detection and improvements in treatments and care mean that breast cancer survival has doubled in the last forty years. Around 600,000 people are alive today in the UK after being diagnosed with the condition. A figure that is expected to double to 1.2 million in the next decade.
COVID-19 has had an impact on breast screening in the UK with programmes paused back in March. Screening has since commenced again, albeit with a considerable backlog. This backlog combined with fewer initial appointments for safety reasons mean it might be some time before the service is running to the levels it was previously.
If you missed a screening in the last six months, you should receive an invitation to attend. Typically those who have had the longest wait will be prioritised.
Check your Breasts
Awareness is all the more important because it can play such a vital role in early diagnosis. It’s important to remember that you don’t need any specialist training or techniques. You can check your own body for signs and symptoms. Nobody knows better than you what your breasts, armpits and upper chest normally look and feel like. Noticing changes such as lumps, swellings, changes in shape, colour or skin texture or unusual discharges and rashes should be checked with your doctor.
If you would like to play a part in breast cancer awareness month 2020 there are a host of different things you can do. From simply putting the message out there to family, friends and followers on social media to fundraising for organisations such as Breast Cancer Support and Breast Cancer Now. Just two of many organisations who play important roles in research, study and support.
If you have any questions or concerns about breast cancer or for help and advice on screening get in touch with your G.P surgery. They will be happy to help.