How Breast Cancer Awareness Month Makes a Difference
Posted on: 25 October 2017 by Jose Calvo
Throughout the month of October, many people throughout the UK will notice more pink clothing than usual. That’s because millions show their support of breast cancer awareness during October by sporting pink ribbons, blouses, hats, and scarves.
Established in 1985, breast cancer awareness month is an annual campaign meant to boost fundraising for organisations fighting to find a cure for the disease. While it may seem like a small gesture, the influx of pink helps bring a necessary recognition of the prevalence of breast cancer throughout the UK population.
Nearly 150 people are diagnosed with breast cancer each day, creating an estimated 55,000 new breast cancer patients each year. Left undiagnosed and untreated, breast cancer is responsible for an average of 11,500 deaths annually. Patient advocacy groups, health organisations, and the individuals who have breast cancer or a family member with the disease, agree that working toward the prevention of the prevalent condition begins with education and greater awareness of the signs and symptoms, and the importance of getting an early diagnosis.
Warning Signs of Breast Cancer and Diagnosis
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer has a singular symptom that is the most common among women. The development of a new lump or mass that is painless, but hard to the touch is a warning sign that breast cancer is present. Some individuals may also experience tender breasts, swelling of all or part of the breast, or skin irritation and dimpling. Others may notice breast or nipple pain, retraction of the nipple, or thickening of the breast tissue. Nearly 40 percent of breast cancer patients discovered the health condition through self-examination, and this has become one of the foundational aspects of breast cancer awareness month throughout the UK.
The NHS put together a five-point plan for individuals wanting to conduct a self-examination, starting with understanding what’s normal for their own body. Looking at the breasts and feeling around the area is part of the process, as is recognising when changes take place. Any variations to the norm should be discussed with a medical professional immediately so that an accurate diagnosis along with a course of treatment can be put in place as early along in the progression of the disease as possible.
Why Timely, Accurate Diagnosis is So Important
Although breast cancer is prevalent among women in the UK, there are instances where individuals are presented with the wrong diagnosis after meeting with their GP. A specialist from a law firm that handles breast cancer misdiagnosis cases shares that over the last decade, more than 1 million women have received a diagnosis of breast cancer when there was either no or a different health condition present. Without a proper diagnosis, patients could suffer undue consequences from treatment they did not truly need. There are, however, steps that can be taken to ensure a timely, accurate diagnosis is received.
Throughout breast cancer awareness month and the remainder of the year, those over a certain age are encouraged to get a screening through the NHS on a regular basis to ensure they are able to receive an early diagnosis and intervention when it is needed. While self-examinations are an integral part of uncovering breast cancer early, medical screenings are more in-depth. A breast cancer screening involves an X-Ray test known as a mammogram that can spot cancerous masses that may be too small to see or feel in a self-examination, making them a necessary component of breast cancer prevention. Every woman who falls in the age group of 50 to 70 automatically receives an invitation to receive a free breast cancer screening, every three years. Taking the half hour to undergo a breast cancer screening, in combination with self-examinations and gaining an understanding of the warning signs pushes the progress of finding a cure for breast cancer forward leaps and bounds.