In the UK around 55,000 women and 400 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.* We caught up with Katy Goford, a Clinical Nurse Specialist at Breast Cancer Now, to learn about self-examination and the importance of early detection.
1. 1 in 7 of us will develop breast cancer in our lifetime. How important is it that people check themselves regularly?
Anyone can get breast cancer, so it’s really important to make checking your breasts a regular part of your routine. Breast changes can happen for many reasons: they may be due to hormonal changes as part of your monthly cycle, puberty, pregnancy and breast feeding or the menopause. If you get to know what your breasts feel like, you'll then be more confident about noticing any unusual changes.
There’s no special way to check your breasts and you do not need any training.
Checking your breasts is as easy as TLC:
Touch your breasts: Can you feel anything new or unusual?
Look for changes: Does anything look different to you?
Check any new or unusual changes with a GP.
2. What should people be looking out for when they are checking their breasts?
Feel your entire chest area, up to the collarbone and under your armpits.
Look for changes to the skin, such as puckering or dimpling, a change in colour, such as the skin looking inflamed, or changes to the nipple, perhaps becoming inverted (pointing inwards) when it wasn’t before.
Also look for a rash or crusting, unusual discharge, or changes in shape.
3. What should people do if they find a change?
Speak to a GP and get it checked out. Most breast changes, including breast lumps, are not cancer. That said, the sooner breast cancer is found, the more successful treatment is likely to be. In the UK Breast Cancer Now also has a free helpline run by clinical nurse specialists who’ll be happy to chat through any questions. You can reach them on 0808 800 6000. However, every country will have equivalent local services that you can access with any concerns.
4. As part of this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness campaign, Primark is making a donation to Breast Cancer Now. How will the donation be used help women affected by breast cancer?
The money donated by Primark through this campaign will fund our Someone Like Me service, which matches people affected by breast cancer with a trained volunteer who’s had a similar experience. They'll be able to answer questions, offer support or simply listen. It is all about finding someone who really understands what you’re going through. It is one of the most important programmes we run at Breast Cancer Now and we are delighted to have Primark fund this for the next 12 months.
5. What advice would you give to someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer?
There’s a lot to take in when you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and there’s no right or wrong way to feel. It may be overwhelming at first and you will probably go through many emotions, from fear, shock and anger to disbelief, sadness and numbness. Try to be kind to yourself, remember that you are not alone, and there are always places you can turn to for support.
In the UK you can turn to Breast Cancer Now. Whether you want to speak to our nurses, join a course, or meet other people who understand what you’re going through – we are always here.
Head over to our support and information page to find out more.
6. You have played an important role in this year’s campaign as the voice behind the video sharing information with people on self-examination. What does being a part of this campaign mean to you?
We are thrilled to be a part of this campaign, which tells the powerful and personal stories of women affected by breast cancer whilst also raising awareness of the disease. Thank you to all the women and their families for telling us their stories.
We are also delighted that Primark have developed a range of post-surgery products, providing comfortable and affordable bras for women with breast cancer when they need it the most.
*According to Breast Cancer Now