Breast Cancer Symptoms: What Signs Should You Look Out For?

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer worldwide and in the UK. According to the NHS, around one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

But a worrying number of women are unaware of the early signs of breast cancer. A 2019 study by cosmetics company Avon found that less than half (42 percent) of women surveyed felt confident they knew what changes to look for in their breasts.

Meanwhile, a quarter of women thought a lump was the only sign of breast cancer. The results come from a survey of 19,000 women. Only two percent of the participants could identify 10 common symptoms of breast cancer.

Although 73 percent of participants said they regularly examine their breasts, 60 percent admitted they were hesitant to see a doctor out of embarrassment or fear.

In addition, the majority of women surveyed were unaware that their lifestyles could put them at greater risk.

Almost two-thirds were unaware that regular exercise can help protect against cancer, while 63 percent were unaware that alcohol is associated with a higher risk of disease.

“Early detection is critical to fighting breast cancer, but our survey found that women don’t know their risks or what signs to look for,” said Sheri McCoy, Avon chief executive officer.

dr Paul Goss, Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Avon Foundation and Director of Breast Cancer Research at Massachusetts General Hospital, added: “These numbers show how much work still needs to be done to raise awareness about breast cancer, particularly its signs and risks, and how to respond to concerns about this.”

So what are the signs and symptoms to look out for?

Women are advised to examine their breasts every month – apart from a lump, other signs of breast cancer include a change in breast size or shape, a rash or skin sores, nipple discharge, skin nicks, constant pain, or a change in skin texture.

Likewise, swelling around the armpit or collarbone could be an indicator, as could a growing vein or an inverted nipple.

If you notice any symptoms of breast cancer that NHS advises you to see your GP as soon as possible.

After the evaluation, your GP will then refer you to a specialist breast cancer clinic if they think your symptoms need further evaluation.

For more information on how to check your breast for cancer symptoms, click here. Breast Cancer Symptoms: What Signs Should You Look Out For?

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