October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. How much do you know about the disease?
1. TRUE One in 8 women in the UK will develop breast cancer in their lifetime – that’s about 5,000 each month. Every year, over 11,000 people in the UK die from breast cancer. But the survival rate is improving, with almost nine in 10 women in the UK surviving breast cancer for five years or more – a statistic which has almost doubled in the past 40 years.
2. FALSE If you find a lump, there’s no need to panic right away. Many women have lumps caused by fluid-filled cysts or a build-up of scar tissue. A new lump or mass that is hard and has rough edges is more likely to be cancer. Watch for breast pain, swelling, or redness of the skin. See your GP if you notice anything different.
3. FALSE Anyone with breast tissue can get the disease, even men. But some things can make it more likely. If someone in your family has had breast cancer, it raises your chances of getting it, too. You’re also more likely to get it if you’ve had it before. Most women have some risk factors, but most don’t end up getting the disease.
4. FALSE While you can’t change your risk factors – like being female and having a family history of breast cancer – you can do a lot to reduce your risk. In a word: lifestyle. Exercise more and eat healthier, especially if you’re overweight. Limit your alcohol intake and quit smoking. Cancer prevention isn’t fool-proof, but being responsible about your health goes a long way.
5. FALSE Women with small breasts have the same risks of developing breast cancer as women with bigger breasts. Breast cancer usually develops in the mammary glands or ducts – all women have the same number of glands and ducts, regardless of the size of their breasts.