On Friday, 19th October Medigold Health threw the brand guidelines out of the window and swapped their iconic green and gold for pink in support of Breast Cancer Now’s #WearItPinkDay as part of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Employees from across the business submitted photos of themselves and their colleagues sporting pink and made a donation via our just giving page.
Although dressing up and taking part is all good fun, awareness days like Wear it Pink Day play an important role in the fight against cancer. The money raised from these campaigns funds crucial research in to risk, prevention, early detection and treatment, while coverage on TV, Radio and social media raises the awareness and starts conversations around breast cancer.
As always prevention and early detection are key, remembering to check your breasts regularly and knowing how to spot the signs of cancer early on will increase the chances of receiving successful treatment.
If you have any concerns you should always contact your GP.
Some of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:
- a lump in the breast
- a change in the size or shape of the breast
- dimpling of the skin or thickening in the breast tissue
- a nipple that’s turned in (inverted)
- a rash (like eczema) on the nipple
- discharge from the nipple
- swelling or a lump in the armpit
- pain or discomfort in the breast that doesn’t go away.
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, made up of fibrous and glandular tissue.
But it is important to get anything that is unusual for you checked by your GP. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the more successful treatment is likely to be.
How many people develop breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in the UK.
Over 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK, including around 4,700 in Scotland.
Each year, around 7,400 additional women are diagnosed with an earlier, non-invasive form of breast cancer. These are confined to a specific area of the breast (usually milk ducts) but may later develop the ability to spread.
One in eight women in the UK will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime.
Around 350 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK, including around 30 in Scotland.
What causes breast cancer?
Breast cancer is thought to be caused by a combination of our genes, lifestyle choices and surrounding environment.
There are many things, or factors, that can increase or decrease the risk of developing breast cancer. One of the biggest risk factors is increasing age. At least four out of five breast cancers occur in women over 50.
In a small number of cases, breast cancer runs in the family. Most women with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease or the faulty genes linked to breast cancer.
You can lower your risk of developing breast cancer by making changes such as drinking less alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight and being regularly physically active.
Detecting it early
The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the chances of successful treatment.
Women aged 50 and over are entitled to free breast screening (a mammogram). You should get your first appointment between your 50th and 53rd birthdays. You will then receive invitations every three years until you reach 70. After this, you will need to make your own appointments.
Regardless of age it’s important to be breast aware as most breast cancers are found by women noticing unusual changes, taking the initiative and visiting their doctor.
All women should be breast aware and women aged 50 and over are entitled to free breast screening
How to be breast aware
Being breast aware simply means knowing what your breasts look and feel like normally, being on the lookout for any unusual changes and getting them checked out by your doctor.
No one knows your body better than you and everyone will have their own way of touching and looking for changes – there’s no special technique and you don’t need any training.
How is it treated?
Most women with breast cancer will have more than one treatment. The choice of treatments – and the order in which they are given – depends on the particular circumstances of the patient and the cancer. Women usually have surgery to remove cancerous tissue from the breast, and also from the armpit if affected.
Afterwards, they often receive additional treatments to reduce the risk of the cancer returning or spreading. These may include radiotherapy, chemotherapy and other drugs.
How many people survive breast cancer?
More women than ever are surviving breast cancer thanks to better awareness, better screening and better treatments. Around five out of six women diagnosed in the UK today will be alive in five years’ time, compared to three out of six women 40 years ago. However, nearly 1,000 women still die of breast cancer every month in the UK, including around 80 women in Scotland
Breast cancer is rare in men. There are about 390 men diagnosed each year in the UK. This compares to around 54,800 cases in women.
There are some similarities between male breast cancer and female cancer. But there are also important differences between the two. The most common type in both women and men is called ‘invasive breast carcinoma – no special type’.
Some men develop rarer types of breast cancer, such as inflammatory breast cancer. Or they might develop conditions related to breast cancer but these are very uncommon. They include:
- ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
- Paget’s disease of the breast
Other symptoms can include:
- oozing from the nipple (a discharge) that may be blood stained
- swelling of the breast
- a sore (ulcer) in the skin of the breast
- a nipple that is pulled into the breast (called nipple retraction)
- lumps under the arm
- a rash on or around the nipple