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Know the symptoms of breast cancer

NHS Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group is using Breast Cancer Awareness Month to dispel myths and encourage more people to be breast aware.

Although eight out of 10 women who get breast cancer are over 50, it can also affect younger and older women, and men too.

And it’s not just lumps that you should look out for; changes to the skin, a rash and discharge from the nipple can all be signs you need to see your GP.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK and the second most common cancer death in women. One in eight women will develop the disease – although early treatment can stop it spreading to other parts of the body.

GP Dr Adrian McLachlan, who chairs NHS Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Nearly 12,000 people die from breast cancer in the UK every year. But if it is treated early enough it can be prevented from spreading. That is why it is vital to be aware of your breasts and look out for changes. You can do this by checking breasts regularly and being aware of what to look out for.

“Most changes are likely to be normal and most breast lumps aren’t cancerous. But it is always best to have them checked by your GP, just in case.”

You should see your GP if you notice any of the following:

  • a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts;
  • discharge from either of your nipples (which may be streaked with blood);
  • a lump or swelling in either of your armpits;
  • dimpling on the skin of your breasts;
  • a rash on, or around, a nipple;
  • a change in the appearance of a nipple, such as sinking into the breast.

 Dr McLachlan said: “All women should check their breasts regularly and even if you’re older than 70 and no longer entitled to free breast screening, it’s important you keep checking for changes.”

 Research shows black women are more likely to present at an early age with a more aggressive disease. But more than eight out of 10 (85 per cent) of patients survive breast cancer beyond five years.

 Breast screening is offered routinely every three years to all women from the age of 50 up to 70. The CCG encourages women aged over 70 years who want breast screening to request it via their GP. The screening programme is also being extended to those aged 47 to 73.

 To find out how to check your breasts for symptoms of breast cancer visit  www.breastcancercare.org.uk. If you’re worried, see your GP.

 For free, confidential support and information call the breast cancer care helpline on 0808 800 6000.

 To support breast cancer awareness month by wearing pink and raising funds, visit  www.wearitpink.org.