Breast Cancer Awareness Month runs throughout October

30 September 2017

There are three main risk factors when it comes to developing breast cancer - unfortunately there is very little you can actually do about any of them!

However, regular self-checks and an awareness of what to look out for can help keep the number of successful for breast cancer treatments on the rise, said Mr Amir Bhatti, a Consultant Breast Surgeon at Spire Washington Hospital.

“The main risk is, unsurprisingly, being a woman. Over 99% of new cases of breast cancer are in women and there isn’t much you can do about that!

“The second biggest risk is getting older. More than 80% of breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50. The third is significant family history – although this isn’t as common as some may think, with around 5% of people diagnosed with breast cancer having inherited a faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.”

But Mr Bhatti stressed that regular checks and early action are still the biggest weapons in a woman’s armoury when it comes to beating the disease and help keep treatment success figures on the rise.

Figures from Cancer Research UK show that around eight out of ten women in England survive their disease for ten years or more, compared with four out of ten back in the 1970s. Figures for surviving for five years or more are even higher at almost nine out of ten – 87%.

“Without any doubt early detection leads to better treatment results. That means we need to ensure that every woman knows how to carry out effective self-check procedures and, just as importantly, what to do if she thinks something is wrong.

“It is important to get an early appointment with a GP to discuss the matter. The patient will then receive informed advice and, if necessary, be placed on the correct pathway for treatment,” said Mr Bhatti.

Although finding a lump in your breast does not always signify breast cancer it is important that women ‘got to know’ their breasts so they could spot changes.

“Many women will experience lumpy breasts just before their period; often this disappears after the period. However, it is important to keep checking and if the lump doesn’t go away then get it checked out by your GP,” said Mr Bhatti.

Despite increasing survival rates CRUK says that about 60,000 people in the UK are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer every year, resulting in around 12,000 deaths.

Possible symptoms that can be found by self-examination:

•  Painless lumps in the breast
•  Changes in the size or shape of a breast
•  Dimpling to the skin of the breast
•  Thickened breast tissue
•  Nipple inversion
•  Lump or thickening behind the nipple
•  Rash affecting the nipple
•  Blood-stained discharge from the nipple
•  Swelling or a new lump in the armpit
•  Clear nipple discharge coming from one side


For information on breast care services at Spire Washington Hospital, call 0191 418 8687.

The content of 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 health care professional.

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