OCTOBER is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Around 55,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK. That’s one person every 10 minutes. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK (around a third of all new cancers diagnosed in women in the UK are breast cancer). In the South Eastern Trust area, there are an average number of 251 cases per year.
Women aged between 50 and 70 are invited for breast screening every three years as part of the Northern Ireland breast screening programme for a mammogram. If anyone is aged over 70, they will not be automatically invited for Breast Screening. However the risk of breast cancer increases with age and anyone over 70 can make their own appointment for screening by contacting The Screening centre at Linenhall Street (028) 9033 3700.
At present, women under the age of 50 are not invited for breast screening. However Action Cancer will do screening mammograms (those who have no symptoms) between the ages of 40 and 49. For more information see the Breast Cancer screening website: www.cancerscreening.hscni.net/1826.htm
If anyone is worried about a breast problem or a family history of breast cancer they should talk to their GP.
The exact cause of breast cancer is not fully understood, but many factors increase the likelihood of developing it. Risk factors include:
• Age – older women are at greater risk of breast cancer, but it can affect younger women too
• Family history of breast cancer
• Being overweight
• Drinking alcohol
• Taking HRT (hormone replacement therapy)
The risk of breast cancer can be reduced by maintaining a healthy weight, drinking less alcohol and taking regular exercise. Breastfeeding can also reduce your risk of breast cancer, although women who have breastfed their children can still develop the disease.
It is also important to check your breasts regularly. There is no right or wrong way to check your breasts. Try to get used to looking at and feeling your breasts regularly and remember to check all parts of your breast, your armpits and up to your collarbone. It is also important to look out for any unusual changes such as:
• Changes in size or shape
• Changes in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling
• Inverted nipple
• A lump or thickening of breast tissue
• Redness or a rash on the skin/around the nipple
• Discharge from one or both nipples
• Constant pain in breast or armpit
• Swelling in armpit/around collarbone
If there are any concerns contact your GP.
For free, confidential support and further information on breast cancer, visit:
or call the Breast Cancer Care Helpline on 0808 800 6000.
Action Cancer 028 9080 3344
Cancer Focus 0800 783 3339