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Sunday, May 18

Breast Cancer: Do you know what you're looking for?

Everybody has somebody that has had an experience with breast cancer; whether they know someone who has experienced it, lost someone to it, or experienced it first-hand.

Cancer is a disease caused by the uncontrollable changing of normal cells in the body. The growth of this change causes a lump called a tumour and if not treated can cause many problems, including:

Spreading around the body, into other normal tissues.
Pressure on other body structures.
Spreading to other parts of the body, through the bloodstream.

Research is continuously growing in the world of cancer and the way it is being treated and the survival rates are getting better day by day, but there is still a very long way to go.

DO YOU KNOW THE SYMPTOMS OF BREAST CANCER?

Possible symptoms of breast cancer include:

A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area.

A change in the size or shape of the breast.

Thickening, swelling, distortion or tenderness of the breast.

Skin irritation or dimpling.

A change in the way the skin of the breast, areola, or nipple looks or feels (for example: warm, swollen, red or scaly).

Swelling or lump in armpit.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

There are a lot of factors you can't control when it comes to cancer, such as your age, height and family history; however, there are a lot of things you can control.

 
Fat - Although there are no studies to show a higher or lower risk of cancer with the amount of fat in your diet, there have been studies to show a slightly lower risk of breast cancer if your intake of 'monosaturated fats' are higher. This kind of fat can be found in olive oil.

Vitamin A - A higher intake of Vitamin A has been linked to a lower risk of breast cancer. Vitamin A can be found in foods like spinach, peas, carrots and mango. There are health risks associated with too much Vitamin A, so don't go overboard.

Weight and shape - Being overweight is thought to increase the risk of breast cancer, especially after menopause due to the increase of oestrogen in the body. The level of risk also seems to be influenced by body shape; an apple body shape - carrying weight around the middle of your body - seems to be at a higher risk than a pear shaped body.
 
Alcohol - An increase in risk has been linked to drinking alcohol; even fewer than 2 drinks per day could affect this risk.

Exercise - Being physically active may help reduce the risk of breast cancer, especially in postmenopausal women. 

DO YOU KNOW HOW TO CHECK FOR LUMPS?

Normal is different for everyone, so you need to discover what is normal for you before you can notice any potential changes. Don't worry about every little change in your breasts as some may be harmless and due to hormone changes throughout the month. You should learn to understand these changes and what is a normal change for you.

You need to be checking both breasts and under each arm too. Get into the habit of doing this regularly, some women check their bodies monthly, others do it daily. It will only take a few minutes and you can do it in the shower as it is easier to run your hands over the skin when it is wet.

Feel for any lumps, thickening or bumpy areas that are different from the same area on your other side. Also check for any swelling under your armpit or around your collarbone (this is where your lymph nodes are). If you have any new discomfort or pain in one breast that doesn't go away, count this as a change.

Check your nipples and look for changes in shape or position, if your nipple turns in or points differently, if you have a new discharge that's not milky, if it's bleeding or has a moist red area that doesn't heal easily, or if you have a rash on or around your nipple - these all count as changes that should not be ignored.

If you find any changes in your breast that aren't normal for you then you should always go and see your GP as soon as possible. Many women get lumps in their breasts, but 9 out of 10 times they are not cancerous. If there is breast cancer present, an early diagnosis means the better the chance of a successful treatment.


IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT WOMEN

Although breast cancer in men is rare (about 350 diagnosed a year in the UK, compared to 55,000 women), it is not unheard of. Men over 60 are at higher risk, but like women, it can affect all ages.

Also like women, you need to learn what is normal for your body and check for any of the above signs in your chest, underarms and collar bone areas on a regular basis.

Make sure you spread the word about cancer and that everyone in your life knows how to check themselves for any signs. It can affect people of all ages and both sexes so you can never know too much.

If you would like to support the research into cancer, have a look at my fundraising tips to see what you can do.


Kayleigh x




You will only ever come second if you try to be someone else, but you will always win 1st place at being yourself