Breast Health & Breast Cancer - we need to save more lives.30 September 21
Knowledge is power and can save lives. Screening, Awareness, Early detection – they can all save lives. Educating and empowering women about breast health and breast cancer will save lives.
55,200 people are diagnosed with primary breast cancer in the UK, every year. Around 76% will survive 10 years plus – that isn’t to say that means their life returns to normal. They live with the fear forever; that every lump or pain may be the return of this disease. Even if they live a long and relatively healthy life, women who have suffered with breast cancer often live with the side effects of treatment, and varying levels of worry. Prevention is the ultimate goal.
But women don’t die from primary breast cancer. It’s the spread of this disease that kills.
The other 24% of the statistic above, will go onto develop secondary breast cancer (also referred to as advanced breast cancer, metastatic breast cancer, stage 4 breast cancer).
Secondary breast cancer is the disease that kills people. Not immediately, it can take a person’s life very quickly or can even take up to 20 years for certain forms of breast cancer. On average, life expectancy may be 2-3 years. "abcdiagnosis" have infographics (link below) to help you check yourself for signs and sypmtoms.
The 13th October marks Secondary Breast Cancer Day
This day officially recognises a disease that kills:
32 people every day
Up to 1,000 people every month
11,500 people every year, in the UK alone… (CRUK)
Awareness is not just about a lump though, it is about the whole journey of awareness from finding something unusual, to the possibility of finding secondary disease. Here are some useful links illustrating the signs and symptoms of primary breast cancer, and a demonstration of breast self-checks on the Prevent Breast Cancer (PBC) website, as well as a link to infographics on the ABCDiagnosis website to help raise awareness around secondary breast cancer signs and symptoms. Prompt action is always the best advice.
Abcdiagnosis is an organisation and network offering peer to peer support for people with breast cancer. Reducing fear, anxiety and isolation, and supporting them to resume normal life, living both with and beyond cancer. At abcdiagnosis they're supporting primary and secondary breast cancer patients to make informed choices; sharing information and news on all aspects of breast cancer. Additionally, they support patients with an NHS signposted infographic for red flag signs and symptoms of secondary breast cancer, and an abcd Motivational Exercise 2 day retreat for wellbeing. They have written a patient story book which covers all aspects of breast cancer from mammography through to secondary breast cancer and everything inbetween. They're a “one stop shop” about all aspects of breast cancer. abcdiagnosis
By funding research, there could eventually be more targeted breast screening, as well as an earlier and more accurate diagnosis of breast cancer provided in the UK. Currently, no diagnosis is early or accurate enough. This may also lead to improved approaches for prevention and help scientists around the world learn more about the causes of breast cancer. It will also help them to identify those at risk of going on to develop Secondary Breast Cancer. Knowledge is power and can save lives.
Screening, Awareness, Early detection – they can all save lives. Dense breast tissue has a strong association with breast cancer. It isn’t fully understood why, which is why Prevent Breast Cancer are researching changes within the connective tissue and why this promotes cancerous growths.
Mammogram images of mostly fatty breasts (left) and mostly dense breasts (right). The person on the right is more than six times more likely to develop breast cancer (That was me by the way).
Educating and empowering women about breast health and breast cancer will save lives. It’s important that women are educated about their risk. It’s important to generate the funding for charities like PBC to perform their research. They are the only charity focusing on Prediction and Prevention of breast cancer, with tailored screening (for example, for women identified to have dense breast tissue) which will have a significant impact on reducing all those statistics above.
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