04 February 2020
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 50, but younger women can also get breast cancer. Early detection and treatment are key to recovery.
"Should I be carrying out self breast examination?"
Yes. The best time to do a monthly self breast exam is about three to five days after your period starts. Do it at the same time every month, as your breasts are not as tender or lumpy at this time in your monthly cycle. If you have gone through menopause, do your exam on the same day every month.
"I found a lump in my breast. What should I do?"
Do not panic or worry as most lumps will not be cancerous. Seek urgent advice from your GP or breast specialist.
"How common is breast cancer?"
One in seven women are now diagnosed at some point in their life. Men can also get breast cancer with a lifetime risk of about 1 in 1000. The estimated annual incidence is over 2 million worldwide and over 55,000 new cases in the UK with one woman diagnosed every 10 minutes.
"How can I reduce my risk?"
23% of breast cancer cases are preventable. Modify lifestyle as alcohol excess, smoking, not being physically active, and obesity or being overweight can all increase risk. Other risk factors include some forms of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), the oral contraceptive pill and radiation exposure.
"Should I take part in breast screening?"
Yes, this can save lives and helps identify cancer early. Women are invited in the UK for three yearly mammograms between the ages of 50 to 70. Enhanced surveillance can be offered to women at higher than average risk and this may start at an earlier age and be more frequent.
"What treatment options will I have?"
People with breast cancer often get more than one kind of treatment and this will depend upon stage and type of cancer.
Mr Avi Agrawal is a Consultant Breast, Oncoplastic and Reconstructive Surgeon practising at Spire Portsmouth Hospital.
If you're worried about a breast lump or any changes to your breasts, we offer a one-stop breast clinic for rapid diagnosis.
The content in this article is provided for general information only and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional.