October Cancer Awareness

Posted by: jreeveseastwood - Posted on:


The Atherstone Surgery regularly engages with awareness days and campaigns throughout the year to encourage good health promotion among our patients. This October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we are focusing on raising awareness around breast cancer.

Cancer awareness is at the forefront of cancer prevention. Cancer screening is the first step. This involves testing apparently healthy people for signs of disease. When cancer is picked up early, treatment is more likely to be successful.

Our Goal is to get more cancers diagnosed at an early stage by raising awareness of key symptoms and encouraging people to discuss them with their doctor without delay.

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is when abnormal cells in the breast begin to grow and divide in an uncontrolled way and eventually form a growth (tumour).

Breast cancer most commonly starts in the cells that line the milk ducts of the breast. It is the most common cancer in the UK. It mainly affects women, but men can get it too. Around 55,500 women and around 370 men are diagnosed in the UK each year.

1 in 7 women in the UK develop breast cancer during their lifetime. It is more common in older women.

There is no simple cause of breast cancer. A variety of risk factors come together to make you more, or less, susceptible. Some of these risk factors are inherited, some are incurred throughout your life and others are present in the environment in which you live.

Breast cancer risk can be affected by age, family history and lifestyle factors. This includes obesity and smoking.

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

Signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • A lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit.
  • A change to the skin, such as puckering or dimpling.
  • A change in the colour of the breast – the breast may look red or inflamed.
  • A nipple change, for example it has become pulled in (inverted)
  • Rash or crusting around the nipple.
  • Unusual liquid (discharge) from either nipple
  • Changes in size or shape of the breast

On its own, pain in your breasts is not usually a sign of breast cancer. But look out for pain in your breast or armpit that’s there all or almost all the time.

Although rare, men can get breast cancer. The most common symptom of breast cancer in men is a lump in the chest area.

Your symptoms may not be due to breast cancer, and they may not make you feel unwell. But it is important that any symptoms you have are checked by a doctor, even if you are feeling well.

The earlier a cancer is picked up, the easier it is to treat it and the more likely the treatment is to be successful.

How to check your breasts

Breast pain is common in women of all ages and is often not a sign of cancer. There’s no special way to check your breasts and you do not need any training.

  • Touch your breasts: can you feel anything new or unusual?
  • Look for changes: does anything look different to you?
  • Check your whole breast area, including up to your collarbone (upper chest) and armpits.

Everyone will have their own way of touching and looking for changes.

Get used to checking regularly and be aware of anything that’s new or different for you.

For a guide on how to check your breasts please take a look at this video from Prevent Breast Cancer below:

Some women diagnosed with breast cancer do not have any symptoms. They are diagnosed after having a mammogram as part of their breast cancer screening programme.

Screening involves testing healthy people for signs that could be due to cancer. It aims to find breast cancers early when they are too small to see or feel. These small cancers are usually easier to treat than larger ones.

Breast screening uses a test called mammography which involves taking x-rays of the breasts. Screening can help to find breast cancers early when they are too small to see or feel. These cancers are usually easier to treat than larger ones.

It is important to remember that screening will not prevent you from getting breast cancer but aims to find early breast cancers.

Overall, the breast screening programme finds cancer in around 9 out of every 1,000 women having screening.

Who has breast screening?

The NHS Breast Screening Programme invites all women from the age of 50 to 70 registered with a GP for screening every 3 years. This means that some people may not have their first screening mammogram until they are 52 or 53 years.

If you are older than 70

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland you can still have screening every 3 years but you won’t automatically be invited. To continue to have screening contact your GP or your local breast screening unit.

If you are younger than 50

Your risk of breast cancer is generally very low. Mammograms are more difficult to read in younger women because their breast tissue is denser. So, the patterns on the mammogram don’t show up as well. There is little evidence to show that regular mammograms for women below the screening age would reduce deaths from breast cancer.

Breast screening for transgender or non-binary people

Breast cancer can affect anyone who has even a small amount of breast tissue, this includes cis men, transgender women, transgender men, non-binary and gender diverse individuals.

The signs and symptoms present similarly to those in cis women. The most common symptom is a lump across the chest or the armpit. If a person has had top surgery (also called gender affirming mastectomies) the signs and symptoms may present more like those in cis men.

If you find a lump or notice any other changes to your chest tissue, it’s important to get checked by your GP as soon as possible. Book an appointment with your doctor, who may refer you to a breast clinic where you will be seen within two weeks.

The screening invitations you automatically receive depend on how your sex is registered with your GP. Any hormones or surgeries you’ve had will impact which screenings are relevant for you.

If you haven’t had a breast screening invitation when you think you should, or you have any further questions, speak to your GP or gender identity clinic.

For Some leaflets about breast cancer, it’s signs, symptoms and how to spot it please check out the leaflets below:

Useful websites:

We at the Atherstone surgery are proud to say that we will be taking part in the upcoming “Wear It Pink” event on the 19th of October to raise money for Breast Cancer Now.

If you wish to contribute to raising money for this cause we would be happy to add any donations you wish to give along with our own. Please give your donation to the reception staff on the day.