Women’s Health and Breast Cancer Awareness
This month marks women’s health month but also, breast cancer awareness month. Women’s health month in the UK takes place in October and is a month used to observe the various facets of women’s physical and mental health. Cancer research is important all year round. However, the Breast Cancer community also takes the month of October each year to raise awareness of the disease and the people who are committed to curing it. Breast Cancer awareness is a huge part of women’s health. At The Doctors Clinic Group, our main goal is to empower you to take control of your health. Therefore here is what you need to know about breast cancer:
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:
Firstly, it is important to note that most breast changes, including breast lumps, are not cancer. However, the sooner breast cancer is found, the more successful treatment is likely to be. Therefore, if you do notice any changes or any of the following signs and symptoms it is best to consult your doctor.
Most common signs of breast cancer:
- Swollen lymph nodes under the collar bone or arm
- Nipple retraction
- Skin dimpling or irritation
- Swelling of all or part of the breast
- Nipple discharge
- Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
Although rare, about 1%, men can get breast cancer. The most common sign of breast cancer in men is a lump in the chest area.
HOW TO CHECK YOURSELF:
There is no official or special way to examine yourself. You will know your body better than anyone so simply take note of any changes and consult a doctor if you feel like there is anything of concern.
The best way to notice changes is to perform regular checks. The TLC method is easy to remember and simple to do. TLC, standing for Touch, Look, Check, allows you to get to know what is normal for your breast. This way you can be aware of any differences as soon as possible.
It is important to check your whole breast area, this includes your collarbone (upper chest area) and armpits.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING A BREAST EXAMINATION IN CLINIC:
You will usually have a breast examination, followed by one or more of the following tests:
- Mammogram: This is an x-ray of the breast which can be used to detect early signs of cancer
- Ultrasound scan: This test uses sound waves to create a picture of the breast and can be used to diagnose cancer and other conditions
- Core biopsy or needle biopsy: This test involves taking a sample of the breast tissue to examine under a microscope
- Fine needle aspiration (FNA): This test uses a fine needle to take a sample of breast tissues and fluid to examine under a microscope
During your breast examination, the doctor or nurse may want to check both of your breasts when you are sitting, and again when you are lying down. As part of the examination, it is normal to examine the lymph nodes (also often called glands) under your arm (axilla) and around your neck.
HOW BREAST CANCER DIAGNOSIS HAS BEEN IMPACTED OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS:
The last few years have impacted check-ups, diagnosis, screening and follow-up care for breast cancer.
Across the UK there has been an estimated 107,000 less referrals than in previous years. This unfortunately has not been due to a drop in cancer cases but rather because people have been less likely to visit their GP during the pandemic.
Breast screening was paused during the height of the pandemic. Meaning that although screening has restarted again, there will be a backlog of women who need to be checked via the NHS.
The sooner you are treated for breast cancer the better the chances of survival, long waiting periods for referrals and checks can be extremely dangerous. Thus, self-examination and private screenings are that much more important.
The pandemic and resulting changes to treatment and care have also been a source of great anxiety for many people living with breast cancer. Patients have felt more isolated than ever before and reported having to deal with poor mental health alongside their cancer diagnosis.
Time for a health screen?
Book a health screen today to get a deeper understanding of your health!
HOW THE DOCTORS CLINIC GROUP CAN HELP:
At The Doctors Clinic Group, we offer a wide range of women’s health services. We have female doctors across our London clinics. Plus some of our private GP’s specialise in women’s health so a specialist is always on hand. You can see a full list of our Corporate GP Services HERE