Here at Boobuddy, we really like to take care of the breasts as best we can, and as October marks the annual observation of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’d like to take this opportunity to discuss why exactly breast cancer is still a very much prevalent issue in our world, and how we as a society can raise awareness around this terrible issue.
What is Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
Every year during the entire month of October, the world comes together to raise awareness around the important topic of breast cancer. As highlighted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), 2020 saw 2.3 million women around the world be diagnosed with breast cancer, whilst tragically still, the period recorded 685,000 deaths.
By the end of 2020, there were 7.8 million women alive who had received a breast cancer diagnosis in the last 5 years, making breast cancer the world’s most prevalent form of cancer.
October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month seeks to raise awareness around one of the leading causes of cancer-related death for women, with breast cancer’s fatality rate only being surpassed by lung cancer cases.
October is hugely important to fighting these tragic figures, and allows for an important opportunity to raise vital funds towards treating and suppressing this disease.
It allows for the opportunity for the countless victims of the disease to be peacefully remembered, whilst also educating those who are most vulnerable to its symptoms and development.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer?
There are a variety of symptoms associated with breast cancer that you should watch out for. But unfortunately, there’s no ‘standard set’ to breast cancer symptoms, and a variety of these can emerge at any one time:
A Lump or Swelling
A lump, or mass, can form at any time anywhere around the body, and for any reason. However, the kind that are most associated with breast cancer appear either on the breasts themselves, on the upper chest area, or under the arms.
If you do notice a new unfamiliar bump in any of these areas, please don’t be alarmed. Over 90% of these lumps aren’t cancerous, but they all still need to be checked.
Discolouring of the Skin
The loss of, or changes to the colour of the skin around the breasts is also a sign you need to watch out for. In certain cases, the skin may appear inflamed, swollen, or tender to the touch, whilst in other scenarios, the skin may experience dimpling or bruising.
Changes to the skin are a common warning sign of cancer’s presence, and such changes should be discussed with your doctor as soon as possible.
Changes to the Nipple Area
In a similar reaction to the skin, both the nipple itself, and the immediate area around the nipple (areola) are especially prone to cancer-related changes.
Often the skin in this specific area could experience dryness or rash-like symptoms, whilst the nipple may appear to be inverted in on itself.
Discharge from the Nipple
If you’re experiencing any kind of discharge from the nipples, you must seek medical attention as soon as possible. Although this doesn’t always have sinister origins, it’s important to rule out any worst case scenarios.
Changes in Size
Although we realise that the breasts aren’t always a perfect pair in terms of their symmetry, if you do notice any changes to their usual size or shape, you should consult a specialist when you can.
Although a change in shape and size is a sign of breast cancer, it’s also associated with many other biological processes. But nonetheless, it’s best to be safe.
How to Check your Breasts
It’s super important to be breast aware. Each and every pair of breasts is unique and different, so it’s really important to be as familiar with their shape, size and appearance as possible.
It’s also worth noting that the breasts can change their appearance naturally depending on the time of year. For example some women have tender and lumpy breasts, especially near the armpit, around the time of their period.
Likewise, after the menopause, normal breasts feel softer, less firm and not as lumpy. Recognising these changes is the key to knowing when things are going wrong.
To check your breasts for any signs of symptoms, you’ll need to inspect every nook and cranny. This inspection should cover every inch of the breasts, the area in between them, and especially the area under your arms.
You’ll want to keep an eye out for any sign of irregularity; such as lumps, swelling, discolouration, or a change in size. Don’t be shy with your inspection, and watch out if there’s any areas of new pain or discomfort.
When and where you check your breasts is completely up to you; wherever you feel most comfortable. Personally, we find that it really helps to do a breast inspection in front of the bathroom mirror, as it’s usually easier to spot anything wrong in a reflection. You should inspect your breasts as often as you can.
What Do You Do If You Have Breast Cancer Symptoms
If after your inspection you’ve discovered something of concern, don’t panic. It’ll do no good to worry endlessly if you’ve discovered the likes of a lump or discolouration.
Remember, many of cancer’s symptoms are shared by much less-threatening conditions, and there’s no need to worry yourself further by jumping the gun.
If you do find symptoms however, it’s always best to be on the safe side. You should book an appointment with your GP within 1 to 2 months, as they will be able to provide a professional and definite insight into what the cause of the symptoms are. The sooner you address the symptoms, the better.
How Can you Support Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
Unfortunately, everyone will either know someone, or be someone who is affected by breast cancer. It’s a truly terrible fact that’s all too true and too common.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer can be a scary, life-changing event, which is exactly why we have events like Breast Cancer Awareness Month; to support those with cancer with better treatment. So how can you personally support the cause?
Donate to Research Initiatives
Breast cancer can be treated, but we as a society must do everything we can to make that process as effective as possible. Donating to research centres is a fantastic way to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and will make a massive difference to the present and future of breast cancer.
Support Someone with Breast Cancer
One of the best ways to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to personally offer your support to someone with the illness. This may come in the form of a supermarket run, car journey, or household assistance, and even a brief conversation could comfort someone dearly in such a terrible situation.
Remember Those We’ve Lost
Although Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an opportunity to look forward to a brighter future for breast cancer, it’s also an opportunity to take a moment to remember those who couldn’t be saved. The simplicity of writing a card or letter and leaving it with a chemo centre will show those above that they’re not, and will never be, forgotten.
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