People are being encouraged to ‘wear it pink’ this month to help raise awareness of breast cancer.
Every October, people all over the world show their support for everyone affected by the disease by sharing their stories, highlighting the symptoms to look for, and taking part in various charity events to help raise funds.
Around 55,000 women and 370 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, with 80% of cases occurring among women aged 50 and over, according to Breast Cancer Now.
Unfortunately not all breast cancer cases are preventable, but studies show that making changes to your lifestyle can help to reduce the risk.
Spotting the signs and symptoms of the disease early can also boost early detection, meaning treatments are more effective.
October is all about promoting awareness of breast cancer, helping to ensure more cases are spotted early and to raise funds to support cancer charities.
Here’s what you need to know about the campaign and how to get involved.
When is Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
This year, Breast Cancer Awareness month will take place from 1 October and will run until Monday 31 October.
The month aims to boost understanding about the causes of breast cancer, the symptoms and how we can act to prevent it.
How can I get involved?
Breast Cancer Now is encouraging people to help promote awareness of the disease by wearing pink in October.
The ‘wear it pink’ day will take place on Friday 21October to raise money for cancer charities, with people across the UK donning pink items of clothing in their communities, schools and workplaces to support the UK’s largest breast cancer charity, Breast Cancer Now.
The wear it pink campaign has been running for more than 20 years and has helped to raise £37.5 million since 2002.
To get involved, simply sign up on the Breast Cancer Now website and start planning what you are going to do to raise funds on the day.
If you are unsure what to do for ‘wear it pink’, the charity lists some ideas online to help spark some inspiration.
What causes breast cancer?
The exact causes of breast cancer are not fully known, but there are several factors that are known heighten the risk. These include:
- your age – the risk increases as you get older
- your family history of breast cancer
- a previous diagnosis of breast cancer
- a previous non-cancerous (benign) breast lump
- being tall, overweight or obese
- drinking alcohol
Studies have assessed the link between breast cancer and diet and while thereare no definite conclusions, there are benefits for women who:
- maintain a healthy weight
- exercise regularly
- have a low intake of saturated fat
- do not drink alcohol
It has been suggested that regular exercise can reduce your risk of breast cancer by almost as much as a third, and it can also improve the outlook for people affected by breast cancer.
What symptoms of breast cancer should I look for?
About one in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime, but there is a good chance of recovery if it is detected at an early stage. As such, the NHS says it is vital that women check their breasts regularly for any unusual changes. If you notice any obvious changes, such as lumps, you should always have it examined by a GP.
Breast cancer can cause many symptoms, but the most noticeable sign is usually a lump or area of thickened breast tissue. Lumps are not always cancerous, but it is best to get checked by a doctor to be sure.
The main symptoms to look for, according to the NHS, include:
- a new lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast that was not there before
- a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
- a discharge of fluid from either of your nipples
- a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
- a change in the look or feel of your skin, such as puckering or dimpling, a rash or redness
- a rash (like eczema), crusting, scaly or itchy skin or redness on or around your nipple
- a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast
If you notice any of these symptoms you should see your GP. If cancer is detected at an early stage, it can be treated before it spreads to other parts of the body.