- Created on the 14 October, 2013.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK with approximately 48,000 women contracting breast cancer in Britain each year. The majority of breast cancer cases affect woman over 50, but younger women, and in rare cases, men, can also get breast cancer.
The primary risk factors for breast cancer are women and those of an older age. Other potential risk factors include –
- Lack of childbearing or breastfeeding
- Higher hormone levels
- Diet and obesity
- Family history of breast cancer
Breast cancer can have a number of symptoms but the first noticeable symptom is typically a lump that feels different from the rest of the breast tissue (although most breast lumps are not cancerous) or thickening of the tissue itself. More than 80% of breast cancer cases are discovered when the woman feels a lump which can be located in lymph nodes in the armpit. Lumps aren’t the only sign of breast cancer, however, and early detection can save your life.
There are several types of breast cancer which can develop in different areas of the breast. Often, breast cancer is divided into two types –
- Non-invasive breast cancer which is found in the ducts of the breast and has not developed the ability to spread outside the breast.
- Invasive breast cancer which has the ability to spread outside the breast.
The earliest signs of breast cancers are detected by a mammogram which creates an image of the breast by passing X-rays through its tissue at a very low dose. Mammogram can detect tumours before they can be felt, so screening is key for early detection. Annual mammograms are a necessity and should be routine for all women over 40 but all adult women should also carry out a breast self-examination at least once a month.