Billions of tiny cells make up our bodies. Normally, these cells grow and develop in a systematic way where new cells are only made when and where they are needed. In cancer, this process goes wrong and cells begin to grow uncontrollably.
Breast cancer can have a number of symptoms, but usually shows as a lump or thickening in the breast tissue (although most breast lumps are not cancerous). If cancer is detected at an early stage, it can be treated before it spreads to nearby parts of the body.
There is not one single cause of breast cancer; rather it appears to be several different factors working together
- Hormonal Factors (e.g. late first pregnancy)
- Environmental factors
Before looking at your own personal chances of developing breast cancer, it is important for everyone to be breast aware; whether you are at a high, medium or low risk of developing the disease. Breast aware means getting to know your own breasts and what they look like. This is important because they can change and feel different at different times of the month.
Here at Prevent Breast Cancer we recommend the TLC technique – Touch, Look, Check.
- Use the flat of your hand, not finger tips
- Wet, soapy hands in the bath/shower may be easier
- Any lump in the breast?
- Any lump in the armpit?
- Is there a lumpy area that was not there before and does not go away after your next period?
- In the mirror – arms by your side then arms raised
- Change in the shape of your breast?
- Change in the skin; dimpling or puckering?
- Change in your nipple eg pulled in?
- Blood stained discharge from the nipple?
- Seek help from your doctor if you notice a change
- Your local breast clinic will see you within 2 weeks if there is a problem
Our research now shows that breast cancer is not random and that women who develop the disease are genetically predisposed. This combined with their lifestyle, environmental and hormonal factors can trigger breast cancer so it is vital to pay attention to your body and seek help if you are at all concerned.