Checking for changes


CHECKING for changes in your body on a daily basis is key to detecting breast cancer early, according to the health promotion officer for cancer prevention.

Di Mathews said the breast awareness message had changed in many ways and women were no longer asked to check once a month.

‘It’s being aware of your body every day and what you normally feel and look like,’ she said.

Di said when someone did notice a change it was a good idea to get it checked out by a doctor.

‘It’s not necessarily looking for something specific – if you’re hung up on looking for an issue, then you might miss something else.

‘Nine in every 10 are not cancers, so it’s about not being scared to go to the doctor,’ she said.  

Although screening starts at 50, she emphasised how important it was that women in their 20s, 30s and 40s checked themselves daily.

Di, who is in her 30s, said her age group was the worst for keeping an eye on their health.  

‘You tend to have a busy job, you’ve had a baby and your own health is low down on the list sometimes.’

But she said taking part in the walk on Saturday was one way to enjoy a healthy lifestyle, as regular exercise helped to prevent breast cancer.

‘Being overweight is one of the risk factors, as well as drinking.’

According to the World Cancer Research Fund, two thirds of all cancers are preventable.

‘They can be prevented by diet and lifestyle changes – which is good news,’ said Di.

‘I don’t live perfectly but if we could make small changes, preventing cancer is more simple than you think.’

More than 80% of all breast cancer cases in the UK are in women over the age of 50. The risk of developing the disease at some point is one in nine.

Although men can also get the disease, breast cancer is 100 times more common in women.

Family history and genetics
In a small number of cases, it runs in families in which close relatives have had it.

Other risk factors include pregnancy in later life, hormone replacement therapy, the contraceptive pill, obesity and drinking alcohol regularly, among others.

Doubtful/inconclusive risk factors include:
Impact injury

What to look for:-

Any changes on a daily basis across your breasts, armpits and up to your collarbone. Those could include:

Size or shape
Skin texture, such as puckering or dimpling like orange skin
A lump or thickening that feels different from the rest of the breast tissue
Redness or rash on the skin and/or around the nipple
A nipple that becomes inverted or changes position or shape
A swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone
Discharge from one or both nipples
Constant pain in your breast or your armpit

GEP Article by Jess Stevenson 16/06/2011

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