Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women with over 49,000 cases diagnosed each  year in the UK. Survival rates for breast cancer are fairly good with 85% of patients surviving for 5 years or more.

Black Women 

Black women are slightly less likely to develop breast cancer than their white counterparts but when they do develop it they are more likely to die from it. To address this it is very important that you are aware of the symptoms and if you notice any breast abnormalities that linger then please do visit your GP as soon as possible. If breast cancer is diagnosed at an early stage survival rates are excellent with 90% of women surviving for at least five after diagnosis.

To find out more about where black women are more likely to die from breast cancer, please view the video below:

Symptoms 

  • A lump in the breast or armpit
  • Thickening in an area of the breast or arm pit
  • Skin dimpling on the breast
  • A change in nipple – a shape change or the nipple being pulled into the breast
  • A change in the size and shape of the breast
  • A discharge from the nipple, especially a blood stained discharge
  • A rash on the nipple and surrounding area

It is recommended that you do a breast self-examination once a month just after your period looking out for any of the symptoms.

During and leading up to your period your breast may become lumpy or painful, that is normal. If you notice any of the symptoms and they don’t go away, please do visit your GP/family doctor. Try not to worry as these symptoms may not be due to cancer as a number of conditions can cause similar symptoms but it is best to rule out breast cancer as soon as possible.

Risk Factors

There are a number of factors that increase a women risk of developing breast cancer. These are:

  • Age – as you get older your risk increases
  • Family history – if you have close family members with breast cancer this increases your risk of developing breast cancer
  • Some reproductive factors increase a woman’s risk. These include:
    • Women who don’t have children are at an increased risk  when they get older
    • Women who didn’t breast feed their children are at a slightly increased risk when they get older
    • Women who had their first child over the age of 30 are at a slightly increased risk
  • The pill– slightly increases risk
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Obesity and being overweight
  • Inactivity – not doing any exercise
  • Alcohol
  • An unhealthy diet

 Prevention

To reduce your risk of developing breast cancer

  • Keep active
  • Eat healthy
  • Breast feed, if you have the choice and are able to
  • If you have the choice, start your family sooner rather than later

Breast Screening

Screening  allows breast cancer to be detected at a very early stage before symptoms begin. This ensures that more women are diagnosed when the disease is at an early stage and is easy to treat, giving women a better chance of survival.

Breast screening involves having a mammogram, an X-ray of the breast, which allows any abnormalities of the breast to be identified.

Women in the UK are automatically invited for screening at the age of 50 and in other countries women may be entitled to screening from the age of 40, 45 or 50.  Please check with your doctor.

More Information

For more information visit Breast Cancer Care’s website here

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