In the past week, two high-profile women in their 40s have announced that they are battling breast cancer. The revelations of broadcaster Victoria Derbyshire, 46, and actress Shannen Doherty, 44, demonstrate that women under mammography screening age are not immune to the disease and should be taking steps to protect themselves for the future.
Lester Barr, chairman of Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention, comments on the importance of being ‘breast aware’ under screening age.
“Although 47 is the age at which NHS Breast Cancer Screening Programme will first invite you to attend screenings – unless you have a family history of breast cancer, when mammograms should begin at age 40 – it is important for women under this age to be conscious of their risk and take active measures to protect themselves.
“From around age 30, women should start checking their breasts more frequently – around once a month – to become familiar with what’s normal for them and be able to spot signs early. To do so, run a soapy hand over each breast and up under each armpit while in the shower or bath, checking for lumps, dimpling, nipple discharge or bleeding and lumps under the arm.
“Around two per cent of women between 30 and 50 will develop breast cancer. However, if the cancer is caught early, then we can implement treatment measures immediately, maximising the patient’s chance of survival.
“Another key consideration is diet and lifestyle. Leading a well-balanced lifestyle and exercising regularly in order to stay at a healthy weight has been proven to help reduce risk of breast cancer.
“At Genesis, we focus on educating women about prediction, prevention and early diagnosis of breast cancer so that they can live full, healthy lives. This message is relevant for all women, no matter what their age.”
Genesis recommends following a healthy diet and lifestyle. One way people can do this is through The 2-Day Diet, which was pioneered by Genesis’ researchers, Dr Michelle Harvie and Professor Tony Howell. The diet has proven to be a more effective plan for tackling weight loss and reducing the levels of hormone insulin that have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.