One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.

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Risks and Prevention

There are a lot of different factors that determine the risk of someone developing breast cancer. There is evidence of a range of genetic and lifestyle factors playing a part in increasing the risk of someone developing the disease.

NHS Choices provides some good information on risk factors here

These factors do not mean you will definitely get breast cancer. Sometimes, people with none of these risk factors will develop breast cancer- we don’t know what causes the disease in all cases. Whether you think you are at higher risk or not, it is important that you attend your breast screenings and go to your GP if you experience any unusual symptoms.

Symptoms

Key symptoms of breast cancer are:

A lump in the breast or armpit. 90% of breast lumps are not cancer, but it is important to get any breast lump checked by your doctor.

Changes in breast, for example its size, shape or how it feels. Breasts may change due to hormonal cycles, but if you feel a change that is unusual for you, go and see your doctor.

Skin changes such as dimpling, puckering or redness could be a sign of cancer. It might be something else, but go and get it checked.

Nipple discharge, bleeding or changes. Fluid leaking from your nipples (when you are not pregnant or breastfeeding) can be cause by a range of issues, including cancer. Any bleeding from your nipples or a change in their position (including sinking into the breast), or unusual fluid leaking should be checked by a doctor.

Breast pain is very common and is not normally a sign of cancer, but you should still go and see your doctor if you experience pain that is not normal for you.

Some rare types of breast cancer can have different symptoms, so if you are at all concerned about changes to your breasts, please make an appointment with your GP- if it is cancer, they would much rather catch it early and make sure that you have the best chance of successful treatment.

Screening

The breast screening test is called a mammogram- it is an x-ray of your breasts that will detect abnormalities even if you do not have any symptoms. This means that it is possible to detect cancer at an early stage, when it is most treatable. Around 96% of women who attend a mammogram will have a normal result.[1]

If you live in Shropshire or Telford & Wrekin…

Shropshire Breast Screening Service is part of the National Breast Screening Programme (NHSBSP). Women aged between 50 and 70, who are registered with a GP Practice in Shropshire or Telford & Wrekin, are screened every three years.

There is a pilot scheme in place to extend this service to women aged 47-73 over the coming few years. You may be invited to join this randomized trial, but if any woman aged 47-49, or over 70, that is not invited automatically, can request screening every three years. Information on how to do this can be found in the link below.

The service is run largely using mobile vans located at various sites across Shropshire, to try and make it as easy as possible for people to attend. When you are invited to attend a screening, you will be told where to go.

For more information about services in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin please visit the SaTH wesbite:

http://www.sath.nhs.uk/wards-services/az-services/breast-service/breast-screening/

If you live in Wales…

Breast Test Wales (BTW) provides the National Health Service (NHS) breast screening programme in Wales. Screening started in February 1989 and is offered to all women aged 50-70, every three years.

Breast Test Wales is divided into three geographical divisions with centres in Cardiff, Swansea, Llandudno and Wrexham.

Screening is also provided in mobile units to enable women who live some distance from a centre to access the service more easily. When you are invited to attend a screening, you will be told where to go.

For more information about services in Wales please visit the Breast Test Wales website: http://www.breasttestwales.wales.nhs.uk/home

Support and Information

There are a lot of support groups and sources of information available if you are concerned about breast cancer. To find a local support group please go to our support directory.

Your general health and wellbeing is important. You may find that holistic therapies, counselling or social activities help you to stay well during your experience with cancer. For information on local health and wellbeing services please click here.

For more information about breast cancer here’s some useful links:

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/breast-cancer

http://breastcancernow.org/about-breast-cancer

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cancer-of-the-breast-female/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Nearly 8 out of 10 women will survive 10 years or more following a diagnosis of breast cancer. Successful treatment is much more likely for people who are screened and diagnosed early, so please:

  • Be aware of your own body and look out for any symptoms
  • Attend your screenings when you are invited
  • Go and see your GP if you are concerned- remember, you are not wasting their time!

[1] http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/breast-cancer/screening/mammogram