October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

01/10/2013

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Trust is encouraging all women to be more aware of what is normal for their breasts so that any changes can be discovered early.

Whatever your age, size or shape it’s important to take care of your breasts. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, with 1 in 12 women in Northern Ireland developing it before the age of 75. It is important to look after your breasts by being breast aware.

Being breast aware is part of caring for your body. It means getting to know how your breasts look and feel so you know what is normal for you. You can then feel more confident about noticing any unusual changes.

Even though it’s uncommon, men can also get breast cancer so they need to be breast aware too. Sometimes breast cancer runs in a family; you can speak to your GP if you are concerned about your risk of getting breast cancer.

The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age with most occurring in women over 50. If it is found early there is a good chance of successful recovery.

Most common signs of breast cancer

The most common signs of breast cancer are:

  • A lump or thickening in an area of the breast
  • A change in the size or shape of a breast
  • Dimpling of the skin
  • A change in the shape of your nipple, particularly if it turns in, sinks into the breast, or has an irregular shape
  • A blood stained discharge from the nipple
  • A rash on a nipple or surrounding area 
  • A swelling or lump in your armpit.

If you notice any of these changes it is important that you attend your GP. They may refer you to a breast clinic to have a more detailed assessment. Don’t worry about making a fuss, and do remember that most breast changes will not be cancer, even if they need treatment or follow-up appointments. However if it is breast cancer, the sooner it is diagnosed the more effective treatment may be. This is why we also encourage ladies aged between 50 and 70, who are invited to attend breast screening to come.

Breast screening

Screening can find cancer early, before you know it’s there. The earlier breast cancer is found, the better your chance of surviving it.

See the Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety website for more information

Every 3 years, women aged 50 to 70 in Northern Ireland are invited for breast screening. This involves a special x-ray known as a mammogram. It is essential that you attend breast screening if you are asked to go as it can detect breast cancer at an early stage before any other signs or symptoms appear.

Women over 70 are not automatically invited for screening but are encouraged to make their own appointment by contacting their local screening unit.

Remember:

  • Know what is normal
  • Know what to look and feel for
  • Look and feel
  • Report any changes to your GP without delay
  • Attend routine breast screening

Breast screening is carried out in the Belfast Trust at:

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust
(Also covering South Eastern Trust)
The Screening Centre
12-22 Linenhall Street
Belfast BT2 8BS
Tel: 028 9033 3700

Other breast screening units in Northern Ireland

Breast Screening Unit
Level A
Antrim Area Hospital
45 Bush Road
Antrim
BT41 2RL
Tel: 028 9442 4425

Southern Health and Social Care Trust
The Breast Screening Unit
Lurgan Hospital
Sloan Street
Lurgan
BT66 8NX
Tel: 028 3834 7083

Western Health and Social Care Trust
The Breast Screening Unit
Ground Floor
The Nurses’ Home
Altnagelvin Hospital
Glenshane Road
Londonderry
BT47 6SB
Tel: 028 7161 1443

More Information

For further information on breast cancer, supporting someone through cancer or any other cancer information, the following links may be useful:

www.cancerresearchuk.org 
www.breastcancercare.org.uk
www.macmillan.org.uk/Home.aspx
www.breakthrough.org.uk 
http://www.cancerni.net/
www.cancerscreening.hscni.net

Related links

Belfast Trust Cancer Services website 
DHSSPS Leaflet - Breast Awareness - Looking out for Changes
DHSSPS Leaflet - Breast Screening can save lives
DHSSPS information on Breast Screening
Northern Ireland Cancer Network
Action Cancer