Wednesday marks the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and throughout October various organisations and individuals will be planning activities and events; not to mention wearing a lot of pink.
But don’t let the pretty packaging of this particular awareness drive fool you. This is a serious issue and a number of dedicated breast cancer charities are working hard to ensure that the UK public knows the facts about the disease; and also understand the warning signs.
One of the biggest challenges that Breast Cancer Care, Breast Cancer Campaign and other bodies face is the amount of false information about breast cancer that is available online. These myths about the causes of the illness, and the telltale signs, prevent women and their loved ones from accessing the facts.
That’s why it’s so important to get the message out and, in turn, save lives.
According to Cancer Research UK, breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. In 2011, 49,936 women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, according to Cancer Research UK; and several hundred men were diagnosed too. With so many people affected, directly or otherwise, it is important to understand the truth about safeguarding yourself from the illness and addressing the early warning signs to improve your chances of survival.
Breast cancer is a complex disease which isn’t caused by a single stimulus. It is, in fact, the result of connections between our environment, lifestyle and genetic makeup.
In an article published on the Huffington Post website, Dr Lisa Wilde, Director of research at Breast Cancer Campaign told Huffpost UK that instead of focussing on the innumerable rumours shared online about the causes of breast cancer, it’s more constructive to be mindful of the signs.
The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed the better chances of survival. With that in mind, here are some of the potential warning signs you might encounter, as outlined by Dr Wilde. Note that there far more tell-tale signs than just lumps.
- Persistent pain
- Changes in size
- Changes to the nipple
- Inverted nipples
Not all lumps are immediately malign but the best way to ensure that this is not the case is to consult your doctor at the earliest possible time. To make things even more complex, redness and rashes might not be restricted to the breast area. If you see similar symptoms around the armpit area this could be another sign.
As we head into October, here’s hoping Breast Cancer Awareness Month encourages you to be mindful of this potentially devastating illness. Will you be donating or raising money for a worthwhile cause? Perhaps even more importantly, will you encourage the people around you to look out for the signs?