If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer you may want to encourage others to check their breasts regularly.
What everyone should know about breast cancer
• Breast cancer is now the most common cancer amongst women. The risk of a woman developing breast cancer is one in eight.
• Most cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women between the ages of 50 and 70.
• Breast cancer also occurs in younger women and all breast masses should be investigated.
• The earlier the cancer is diagnosed, the more treatment options there are, and the greater the chance of survival.
• Breast reconstruction procedures are now routinely performed.
• Support groups are available.
• Fantastic progress has been made in treating this disease.
Your history and habits
All women are at risk of getting breast cancer. Some factors increase your risk:
• A history of breast cancer in your family – especially in close relatives.
• Early menstruation or late menopause.
• Having your first child after the age of 30.
• Drinking two or more alcoholic beverages a day.
• Prolonged use of Hormone Replacement Therapy.
• Breast feeding reduces your risk.
• Exercise reduces the chance of breast cancer by 37%.
• Eating a low fat diet and watching your weight may also help.
Early detection saves lives
There is a 90% five-year survival rate when breast cancer is diagnosed early. If there is a history of breast cancer in your family it is important that you consult your doctor and start a regular screening programme TODAY!
From the day that breasts start to develop a monthly breast self-examination (BSE) should be performed. Do this at the same time each month, about one week after your period. If you are no longer menstruating, pick the same date each month.
A breast self-examination only takes 10 minutes of your time, once a month. It could save your life!
See the bookmark alongside for the correct method.
What changes should you look for?
• Any difference in size or shape.
• A rash or redness on the nipple or breast.
• A lump in your breast or armpit.
• A change (dimpling or coIour change) of the skin on the breast.
• A nipple that has become inverted (pulled in).
• A oozing of fluid from your nipple.
• Itching or eczema on the nipple.
• One breast looking “different”.
• Enlarged glands in the armpit.
• Constant pain in your breast or armpit.
Before the age of forty
• From the age of breast development you should have your breasts examined by a health professional every year. This is a Clinical Breast Exam.
• The examiner will inspect your breasts for changes in size and shape.
• Using the pads of the fingers the examiner will check for lumps in breasts and under the arms and will also note texture and shape.
From 40 onwards
• From the age of 40 onwards, in addition to your monthly BSE and annual Clinical Breast Exam, start having a mammogram EVERY year. This low-dose x-ray can pick up breast cancer even before a lump may be felt.
• The procedure may be uncomfortable but should not be painful. To reduce the amount of discomfort do not have a mammogram immediately before or during a period.