Everyone, including men, can get breast cancer, and 1 in 8 women develop breast cancer – that’s 50,000 people every year, or 130 women every day.
It’s more common in women over 50. An early diagnosis often means successful recovery. Over 200 females in Brighton and Hove are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
Jeanette lives in Brighton andher breast cancer was caught early.
She says, “I was 44 when I found a lump in my right breast, which was very quickly diagnosed as breast cancer. All the tests were done in one day, which was a relief. Although I then had to have a mastectomy, reconstruction and months of treatment, I feel extremely lucky to have found that lump as it undoubtedly saved my life.
“I didn’t really check my breasts regularly before and would urge all women to do so, whatever your age. And if you find a lump or something that looks or feels different or not quite right, getting it checked out quickly is really important. I'm so glad I did. I am now 45 and still enjoying family life with my two children, feeling fitter than ever and looking forward to the future.”
Lorna wants to tell you about how she found out she had breast cancer, and what happened next.
Judith is in her 40s and lives and works in Brighton.
She used to be the proverbial ostrich – putting her head in the sand and pretending nothing was wrong! It was her best friend that persuaded her to get medical advice when she noticed a lump in her breast. “She just nagged and nagged and nagged so I went just to shut her up”, says Judith.
“I didn’t for a minute think it was going to be cancer – I had healthy big boobs, had breast fed my four kids and although I was a big woman, I considered myself healthy. I didn’t smoke or drink. My mum has had breast cancer but we never talked about it and I honestly didn’t think it was going to happen to me.
“I am happy now to talk about it and am so glad my friend persuaded me to get help when she did. I am still here for my kids and while it hasn’t been easy, life is getting back to normal and I enjoy cycling around and working in a local pub.
“In hindsight, I would have done everything differently and gone to the doctor sooner but I can tell you from this experience that you do need to SPEAK UP and get attention. I am not an ostrich anymore."
If you don’t have one, the NHS service search will help you find a GP near you.
- A lump or thickening in an area of the breast.
- A change in the size or shape of a breast.
- Dimpling and puckering of the skin.
- A change in the shape of your nipple. Has it turned in, sunk in or become irregular in shape.
- Nipple discharge.
- Rash or crusting of the skin.
- Know what's normal for you.
- Look at your breasts and feel them.
- Know what changes to look for.
- Report any changes to your doctor without delay.
- Attend routine breast screening if you're 50 or over.
Many women do not check their breasts because they don’t know how.
Watch this video to see how easy this life-saving check can be.
Remember, these symptoms may not point to cancer but early diagnosis means it can be more easily and effectively treated. If you have any of these signs or symptoms, don’t wait for your next screening invitation – go and see your GP.
If you attend your GP with a breast symptom and are referred for a specialist appointment, you can expect to be offered an appointment within two weeks of the referral being received. Make sure you attend.
You will be seen by a breast specialist, have tests and usually have the results all on the same day, to put your mind at rest. If you have a biopsy (where they take a little bit of breast tissue away for testing) this will take a little longer.
Having a family history of breast cancer can increase your risk of developing the condition yourself. If you are particularly concerned that your family’s medical history may mean you are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer, it may help to speak to your GP.
If necessary, your GP can refer you to a genetics specialist who can offer more advice about your level of risk and recommend any necessary tests to periodically check for the condition.NEED HELP MAKING A GP APPOINTMENT?
In Brighton and Hove, seven out of ten women attend their breast screening appointment. Women are invited to go to the Park Centre near Preston Park for this. If you are over 70, and it is more than three years since your last mammogram you can talk to someone about an appointment by calling 01273 664966.
See here for more details.