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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so the team here at YourGP are playing our part by answering your most common questions about the most common cancer in the world. Sadly, the rate of breast cancer in women has doubled over the past 50 years. However, there is hope because since the mid-1980s, breast cancer mortality rates have decreased by 45%. This is in part due to the advances in treatments and technology, but it also due to earlier detection. Quite simply, the earlier that breast cancer is detected, the greater the chance of it being successfully treated. So, read on and arm yourself with the facts…
Whilst huge advances have been made in our understanding of breast cancer, scientists still can’t pinpoint exactly what causes it. However, we do know that genes, environment and lifestyle can affect your chances of developing it.
Breast cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the breast grow in an uncontrolled way. Those cells can form tumours which can then spread. It is important to note that this can occur in men as well as women.
There are many factors that can make you more susceptible to developing breast cancer which sadly you cannot change. These include:
That said, Breast Cancer UK estimates that around 30% of breast cancer cases in the UK can be prevented by making lifestyle changes. Changes include:
Ideally, you should check your breasts every month. It is best to perform a self-examination around 7-10 days after your period starts, as this is when your breasts are least likely to feel tender or lumpy. Check the whole breast area, including your upper chest and armpits, and remember “TLC” – Touch Look Check:
Everyone is different, so it is important to recognise what is ‘normal’ for you by comparing month on month. Whilst the symptoms listed below do not necessarily mean you have breast cancer, it is essential that you speak to a GP as soon as possible if you notice any of the following changes:
In addition to looking out for changes, don’t forget to attend your breast screening as soon as you are called. You will automatically receive your first invite for breast screening between the ages of 50 and 53. Then you will be invited every 3 years until you turn 71.
If you have any concerns about your breasts, you should contact a medical professional immediately. Here at YourGP, we make that process as easy as possible by offering short notice appointments at our two Edinburgh practices. Choose a date and time that suits you via our simple online booking system, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0131 225 5656 and we will ensure that you are seen as quickly as possible.
I’d like to thank everyone for their friendly professional attitudes and service. It made what was an anxious time for me much easier to cope with