Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer

Since I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I have become very breast aware and am anxious that I should know how to advise my daughters so that their risk of this horrible disease is minimized. So, whatever your age, size or shape it is so important to take care of your breast mammogrambreasts. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. It affects men as well as women. So it is important to look after your breasts by being breast aware. This means getting to know how your breasts look and feel, so you know what is normal for you. You will then be more confident about noticing any unusual changes.

Before my breast cancer diagnosis, I did not check my breasts. I did not know I should. I know now this was a big mistake. Try to get used to looking at and feeling your breasts regularly. You can do this easily in the bath or shower or when you get dressed. Check all parts of your breasts, your armpits and up to your collarbone.

breast dischargeIt will not surprise you to know that before I was told I had breast cancer, I did not know what changes to look for – many of us don’t. Make sure you know what your own breasts feel like. Everyone’s look and feel different, so when yo check your breasts, be aware of any changes that are different for you.

This might be a change in size or shape; redness or a rash on the skin or around the nipple or lumps or thickening that feels different from the rest of the breast tissue. Alternatively, you might become aware of  change in skin texture such as puckeringbreast dimpling or dimpling like orange peel. I found a discharge from my right nipple, but I did not recognise this as a sign of breast cancer. Other changes might be swelling in the armpit or around your collarbone. Be aware if your nipple becomes inverted when it is not usually so or changes its position or shape in another way; you may also have constant pain in your breast or armpit.

If you notice any change in your breasts go to see your GP as soon as possible. Most changes are benign, but if you are struck by breast cancer, give the doctors a chance to help you by going to see them as early as possible.

My breast cancer was discovered as the result of a breast screening appointment arranged by my GP. Breast screening, or mammography as it is known, is an X-ray examination of the breasts. For me, it helped to detect breast cancer before I was aware of any signs or symptoms. The sooner the breast cancer is detected and diagnosed, the more effective treatment will be and the more likely you are to have a more satisfactory outcome.

Valerie Penny

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Symptoms of Breast Cancer.

Breast_Cancer_1Breast cancer affects both men and women. However, breast cancer has been the most common cancer in the UK since 1997, but is rare in men. It is by far the most common cancer among women in the UK (2011), accounting for 30% of all new cases of cancer in females. In 2011, there were 50,285 new cases of breast cancer in the UK: 49,936 (99%) in women and 349 (less than 1%) in men. Female breast cancer incidence is strongly related to age, with the highest incidence rates found in older women. This supports a link with hormonal status. In the UK between 2009 and 2011, an average of 80% of breast cancer cases were diagnosed in women over 50. Indeed, around a quarter (24%) were diagnosed in women aged 75 and over. I therefore find it very frightening that many older women ignore the risks of contracting breast cancer and are ignorant of the symptoms of the disease, with the exception of finding a lump. Finding a lump may be the most common sympton of breast cancer, however, in many cases finding a lump will be one of the last symptoms to become obvious, especially if the tumour is seated deep in the breast tissue. This is important because the earlier the disease is treated,the more successful that treatment is likely to be.

Some of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:

1) a lump in the breast
A lump in the breast is the most common symptom of breast cancer. Most breast lumps are not cancerous. They are usually fluid-filled lumps,cysts or a fibroadenoma, which is made up of fibrous and glandular tissue. But it is important to get a lump checked by a doctor straight away. If a lump or other symptoms is caused by breast cancer, the earlier treatment is received the more successful it is likely to be.

2) a change in the size or shape of the breast
The warning signs of breast cancer are not the same for all women. One of the common signs are a change in the look or feel or size of the breast. Breast enlargement alone is not necessarily a sign of inflammatory breast cancer. I see a lot of women who are worried about a change in breast size, and inflammatory cancer is rarebreast size

3) dimpling of the skin or thickening in the breast tissue
You may become aware of dimpling or tethering of the skin of the breast during a self-exam. It is an important part of the self exam to look in the mirror and look for a dimple. The breast should be outwardly round—it should curve outward and not pull in. If you have had breast surgery before and you have some scars, you might find that the breast will pull in around a scar. Of course, this is a different situation. A dimple is a pulling in of the skin, and it may occur when you raise your arm or lean forward. When you lean forward and raise your arm, the breast should stay outwardly round; it should not pull back in. That may be a sign of cancer, and it should be checked.

4) inverted nipple, a nipple that’s turned in
Every body is different. Some people are born with inverted nipples. That is not a worry or unusual for them. However, if you notice a change in your breasts that result in development of an inverted nipple, so you were not born with one,and the nipple cannot be drawn out, this should be checked by a doctor. it may suggest a lump behind the nipple that is pulling it in.

5) a rash on the breast or the nipple
Although tumors are the most common symptom of breast cancer, they are certainly not the only symptom. Women with a rare form of the disease called inflammatory breast cancer can develop a red, pink, or purple rash across part of their breast. The skin of the breast might also appear puckered, like the skin of an orange. If you notice symptoms like these, have them checked out by a doctor right away. Inflammatory breast cancer can spread quickly.breast cancer rash
6) discharge or bleeding from the nipple
Nipple discharge is a normal part of breast function during pregnancy or breast-feeding. It also may be associated with menstrual hormone changes. It appears spontaneously and involves a single duct. Although the bloody discharge may resolve on its own, this situation requires evaluation with an ultrasound of the area behind the nipple and areola. If the ultrasound shows a lesion, you may need a biopsy to confirm whether it is a papilloma or something more sinister. Although most often, nipple discharge stems from a benign condition. However, breast cancer is a possibility, especially if it is combined with one or more of the following: you have a lump in your breast, only one breast is affected, the discharge contains blood, yhe discharge is spontaneous or the discharge affects only a single duct.
7) swelling or a lump in the armpit
An armpit lump refers to the enlargement of at least one of the lymph nodes under your arm. Lymph nodes are small, oval-shaped glands that are located throughout the body and play an important role in the immune system. Most lumps are harmless and are usually the result of abnormal tissue growth. However, armpit lumps can be related to a more serious underlying health problem. Any unusual lumps should be evaluated by a doctor. Armpit lumps can occur in men and women of all ages. However, finding an armpit lump is most alarming for women because it may indicate breast cancer. Women should perform monthly breast exams and report any lumps to a doctor right away.Note that breasts undergo hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, and may tend to feel more tender or lumpy during this time. This is completely normal. For the most accurate results, perform breast self-exams about one week after your period starts.

The advice you must consider is this: whether man or woman, old or young, if you become aware of a change in the area of your breasts seek medical attention sooner rather than later. Time is valuable: time is life.

Valerie Penny

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