As October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there is no better time to get informed and make sure your loved ones are too.
Current statistics in Ireland
- 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer in the course of their lifetime
- Incidence of male breast cancer is 1 in 1000 – around 22 men develop breast cancer in Ireland each year
- We have 3100 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed each year
- Only 5-10% of breast cancer cases are hereditary
- The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. Approximately 80% of breast cancers occur in women over 50 years
It is important to be familiar with how your breasts appear normally. Look out for these 8 warning signs that may indicate something is wrong. Early diagnosis is key to surviving breast cancer.
How can I check myself?
Get to know what’s normal for you – how your breasts look and feel and look how for the above warning signs. 75% of Irish women with breast cancer discovered the lump themselves.
- Look for changes in the mirror and feel for changes, too - when you are in the shower, when putting on moisturiser or when lying down.
- Check all parts of your breast, your armpits and up to your collar bone.
- Discuss any changes with your family doctor – without delay.
Getting a breast check
Breast screening involves a mammogram x-ray of the breasts, which can detect early signs of cancer before it can be seen or felt. Screening has been proven to reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer, as the disease is very treatable if detected early.
BreastCheck, the national breast screening programme, currently offers free mammograms to women aged 50-67. The programme invites eligible women, on an area by area basis, for free screening every two years. You can register online for BreastCheck or by calling freephone 1800 45 45 55.
Why are mammograms important?
Cancer shows up in white on digital images.
Breast tissue in women younger than 50 is still very active and subsequently appears white on a digital image. As women age (50+), the breast tissue goes from grey to black so detection is much easier as it shows up white.
Mammograms are the best, first line screening test available for women and can sometimes detect cancer up to 3 years before it is visibly noticeable.
Many younger women may opt for additional MRI or ultrasound to aid detection as their breast tissue generally appears white to begin with.
Mammograms are 90% effective in identifying the presence of Breast Cancer. 10% of Breast Cancer may not show up because they are either difficult to include in the image or hidden behind normal breast tissue.
If you have been diagnosed
Most people diagnosed with cancer experience a range of emotions. Recognising these feelings and emotions can help you to cope better with your diagnosis.
While it is a rollercoaster, there are certain steps you can take to help you mentally and thus physically causing you less stress.
This fact sheet contains lots of useful information and facts. Screenshot it or save it and take to have with you at all times, when it comes to checking yourself, assessing your risk factors or recommending someone else do so.