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What You Need To Know About Breast Cancer

What You Need to Know about Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – a time when people come together to share stories and information about breast cancer, raise money to help fight the disease and work to make sure the public are aware of the risks associated with this illness. In this article, we want to round up some of the most important facts for you to know about breast cancer. After lung cancer, breast cancer is the second biggest cause of cancer death in women. It’s also the most common invasive cancer for those assigned female at birth to experience. Since 1989, improvements in treatment and screening have dramatically improved survival rates for those diagnosed with breast cancer. In the UK alone, it is estimated that 691,000 people are living with a diagnosis of breast cancer, or are in remission having survived the disease. In the United States, that number is around 3.1 million. Only around 2.7%, or 1 in 37, of those diagnosed with breast cancer are expected to die from the disease. By 2020, the number of breast cancer survivors in the UK is expected to rise to around 840,000, with around 11,500 people dying from the disease each year. One of the best ways to reduce your risk of dying from breast cancer is to be aware of the symptoms and to understand the need for screening. Although this article will focus on breast cancer in biological women, it’s important to understand that men can also be affected by breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Facts

These are a few of the facts about breast cancer that are worth knowing. For more details, be sure to read the full article!
  • Women are the patients in over 99% of new cases of breast cancer.
  • Over 80% of breast cancer cases involve women aged 50 and over. The majority of men affected by breast cancer are 60 or over.
  • A faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene is present in around 5% of people diagnosed with breast cancer. So while it is uncommon, a family history of breast cancer may be a cause.
  • A range of treatments are available, including radiotherapy, surgery, and chemotherapy.
  • Because of its medical uses, a large section of the cannabis industry is currently focusing on creating strains of cannabis that are rich in CBD, which has been used to successfully treat many ailments, from seizures to tumours, inflammation to pain and mood disorders.
  • Symptoms include thickening of the breast, changes to the skin or the nipple or a lump or swelling in the breast.

What Are the Signs of Breast Cancer?

Successful treatment of breast cancer is more likely the earlier the condition is diagnosed. Checking your breasts regularly is really important for this reason. You need to be keeping an eye out for any unusual change in your breasts, as breast cancer has many different signs and symptoms. The following are just some of the more common symptoms and signs of breast cancer:
  • A swelling or lump in your armpit, breast or upper chest. You may not necessarily be able to see it – feeling one is enough.
  • Dimpled or puckered skin, or any other change in skin texture.
  • Changes to the nipple such as rash or crusting.
  • Any unusual discharge from either nipple.
  • A change in the colour of the breast – the breast may look red or inflamed.
  • Changes in the size or shape of the breast.
These symptoms can sometimes be associated with pain in the breast, but a pain in the breast on its own is not usually a sign of breast cancer. Any pain that persists over a period of time or is otherwise unusual is worth reporting to your GP, though it won’t generally be a symptom of this condition. If you are worried about any changes to your breasts it is important to get checked out, but keep in mind that changes will not always mean that you have cancer.

A Lump in Your Breast

The most common symptom of breast cancer is a lump or mass in the breast. While some may be painful, most of these lumps will not hurt at all and will just feel a little hard. It’s important to remember that not all lumps are cancerous. Some lumps can also be caused by benign breast conditions like cysts. You should go and see your GP straight away if you find any new lump or mass in your breast. Early diagnosis will make all the difference if the lump does turn out to be cancer.

Breast Cancer Stages

The size of the tumour and whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body such as lymph nodes are used to determine which “stage” cancer is in. Breast cancer can be staged in various different ways. It’s often staged from 0 to 4, but these stages can be broken down further for a more specific staging. In DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ, or Stage 0), cancer cells have not invaded surrounding tissues and are limited to within a duct. At the beginning of Stage 1, the tumour still hasn’t affected any lymph nodes and is up to 2cm wide. Stage 2 tumours have started to spread to nearby nodes and are 2cm across. Stage 3 tumours are up to 5cm wide. In the final stage, Stage 4, the cancer has spread to organs further away such as the lungs, bones, brain or liver. For more information about breast cancer, check out Need2Know’s Essential Guide to Breast Cancer which will look at everything from what breast cancer is and how it’s diagnosed, right through to support options, the treatment available and how to care for your carers. Need2Know also have some great books about prostate cancer, testicular cancer and skin cancer. Whether you’re newly diagnosed, caring for a friend or just curious, we have all the information you need!

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