Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. The lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is one in nine. Each year there are approximately 41,000 new diagnoses. The incidence of breast cancer for men is on the increase too with approximately 300 new cases diagnosed yearly (in the UK). It has been shown that early detection of breast cancer can improve the outcome. Survival rates from breast cancer have improved partly in recent years due to early presentation and from individuals being breast aware.
The following article has been provided by Medilink, a FREE health advise and guidance service that enables all expats in Spain to access qualified staff for any enquiry they have in relation to health.
What Is Breast Awareness?
Breast awareness is a process of knowing what is normal for you and becoming familiar with the appearance of your breasts. It is about being aware of your breasts when carrying out daily activities such as washing and dressing. By looking and feeling and becoming more familiar with your breasts at different times you can become more breast aware. You do not have to examine your breasts in a particular way or at a particular time. Do what feels best for you and make breast awareness a normal part of caring for your body. 90% of cases of breast cancer are detected by women themselves or by their partners. By being breast aware and knowing what is normal for you will be able to detect any changes, should they happen.
Follow the Breast Awareness Five Point Code:
• Know what is normal for you
• Look and feel
• Know what changes to look for
• Report any changes without delay
• Attend for breast screening
The Normal Breast
It is important to know what is normal to expect breasts to feel like and also how they can change throughout your lifetime. Before the menopause breasts feel different at different times of the month, as they are affected by the hormonal changes in the milk producing tissue. For some women their breasts may feel lumpy or tender before a period. After the menopause the breasts will not be affected by monthly hormonal changes and will feel less firm, softer and without lumps. If you have had a hysterectomy your breasts will usually show the same monthly changes until the time when your periods would have stopped
Changes to Look Out For
When looking at and feeling your breasts be aware of anything that is new for you or that is not normal for you. Look for any changes in the skin, any puckering or dimpling. Look and feel for any lumps or bumps, especially if different from the other breast. Be aware of any pain or discomfort in one breast that does not go away. Also be aware of any changes in your nipples; any discharge, bleeding or rash or any change in the position of your nipple.
It is important to know what sort of changes to look out for, but it is equally important to report them to your doctor / Nurse without delay. They are many reasons for breasts to change and many of them are harmless, but they all need to be checked out. You will not be wasting anybody’s time and the earlier any problems are detected the easier the treatment is likely to be.
Breast Screening Programme
The risk of breast cancer increases with age. 80% of breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50. In Spain, women over the age of 50 are offered routine mammograms to help detect breast changes at a very early stage. Women under the age of 50 are offered breast screening when the need arises. Though we believe that prevention and early detection is your best line of defense.
Throughout Europe many different screening programmes exist. Each country has its own ideas and in Spain, women over the age of 50 are offered screening mammograms to detect breast changes. Women under the age of 50 are offered breast screening when the need arises. Breast cancer can occur as early as 30 years of age and as late as 80 or 90 and all screening programmes exclude these age groups.
In the early 1990’s three types of tests were available namely mammography, ultrasound and thermography. Huge advances in digital x-ray technology and ultrasound over the last 20 years have resulted in Mammography and Ultrasound becoming the mainstay of government breast screening programmes. It is now possible to determine whether a lump in the breast is cancerous or not simply by the accuracy of the scans or mammograms.
Thermography has become an outdated modality of investigation, and most data on the use of this technique are now nearly over 10 years out of date. It is not used by any major western government health care screening programme because the technique is associated with an unacceptable false positive (over-diagnosis) and false negative (missed disease) rate. Some recent research claims that thermography with surface cooling may be a sensitive test, but this has yet to be fully evaluated and is not widely available outside of research institutions.
More exciting is the recent emergence of MRI (Magnetic Resonance scanning) in the detection of breast cancer. Currently costs limit its use, but in those patients where ultrasound and mammography are not been diagnostic, MRI scans can help doctors decide whether or not to operate.
I was very pleased last year to be invited to support the Positively Pink Campaign and help the charity develop a safe evidence based breast screening service for non entitled or interested British women on the Costa del Sol. Again this year, the programme offers free state of the art breast imaging (Ultrasound and / or Mammography) supported by a clinical examination with a suitably trained doctor or nurse. Self examination training is also available during your screening consultation. At Positively Pink, we believe that prevention and early detection is your best line of defense.
Positively Pink is very fortunate to have Dr David Deardon overseeing the Free breast screening programme in conjunction with Clinica Medicare in La Cala. Dr David Deardon is also now available at the clinic, for consultation and his expertise cover’s a wide remit. Tel 952 835 778. For more information on Positively Pink look at the website www.positively-pink.com or call Clinica Medicare to make an appointment for your FREE breast Screening.