‘For every 500 women screened, 1 life will be saved’.

How is it that a statement, consisting of only 10 words, can have such a large impact?

Breast Cancer Research was established to help eliminate the fear and anxiety invoked by the term ‘Cancer’. The funding received goes towards finding a cure for breast cancer and through this objective this medical research has helped inform people of the origins of breast cancer and how to identify it.

What is cancer?

When the cells inside a person’s body become old, they die and are replaced with new cells. Sometimes the genetic material of a cell changes which leads to mutations that affect normal cell growth. Excess cells are created which merge into a mass of tissue cells, which could create a cancerous tumour.

How do you identify breast cancer?

The NHS breast screening programme enables women who are aged 50 to 70 to book an appointment every three years. Screening helps find breast cancer early and the earlier it is found the greater the survival rate. Regular screening often means that the cancer is caught in an early stage which allows it to be treated more successfully, which is estimated to save around 1,300 lives per year.

Younger women aren’t routinely offered breast screening on the NHS breast screening programme in the UK. However, women that have an increased risk of breast cancer because of family history are often offered screening with a newer type of mammogram.

It is important to recognise that it is not only the patient who is deeply affected, but also those closest to them. Screening helps to save lives, by identifying the illness quickly, and allows an individual and their family to be made aware of the options and support available to them.

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

The most common symptoms that are associated with breast cancer include a lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast, a change in the size of one or both breasts, and swelling in either armpit. It is vital that people check themselves regularly and notify a local GP if they recognise the symptoms of breast cancer, as it could save their life.

So be ‘breast-aware’, as diagnosing the illness is the first step to dealing with it.

For more information on breast cancer go to www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-help/type/breast-cancer/