Be Breast Cancer Aware This October

As October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, women are being encouraged to make themselves aware of the signs and symptoms of the condition.

The Public Health Agency hopes to educate people on the tell-tale signs and prompt women to look out for changes in their breasts.

Breast cancer touches many lives, with some 1,478 people diagnosed in Northern Ireland in 2017.

Louise Herron, Consultant in Service Development and Screening at the PHA, hopes the information will inspire women to consider the range of symptoms that may be present.

"Most women know that if you get a lump in your breast you need to get it checked out early," Dr Herron said. "But lumps aren't the only sign of breast cancer. Our breasts look and feel different at different times in our lives. If you are worried about any change at all, the best way to put your mind at rest is to see your GP."

Some changes that might indicate breast cancer:

• Lumps – if you find a lump it doesn't necessarily mean you have cancer, but get it checked out. Lumps can appear in your breast, armpit or around your collarbone.

• A nipple that's become turned in – any changes in the size of shape of your breast needs to be checked out.
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• Dimples – some women find dimples in their breasts – these need to be checked early.

• Leaking nipples – if you notice any discharge coming from your nipple you need to see a doctor as soon as possible.

• Crusty nipples – some women get crustiness around or on their nipple. Sometimes it is like a red rash, sometimes it is flaky skin and it can be itchy.

Around nine in every ten women who receive a breast cancer diagnoses in the early stages survive with treatment, the PHA has said.

Dr Herron continued: "Breast cancer touches lots of lives and many of us have a family member or friend who has been diagnosed. To make sure you pick up any changes in your breasts you need to be aware of what is normal for you. You need to know when things change so you can spot potential problems. It is important to be breast aware."

Further information on the changes to look out for can be found here.

If you notice any changes at all, the best thing to do is see your GP. More information on breast screening can be accessed online.


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