It is World Cancer Day today and you may have noticed various things in the media. To mark the day we would like to share some myth busters with you all and invite you to share your own, or please ask about any that you are unsure about.
Here are some of the misunderstandings we hear, and the facts behind them.
Myth: My breast cancer risk must have gone down because now I’m over 70 I don’t get invited for breast screening any more.
A third of breast cancers in the UK are diagnosed in people aged over 70 meaning that your risk rises with age. It’s true that routine invitations for breast screening with the NHS Breast Screening Programme stop at age 70 (rising to age 73 in England by 2016). But you’re still entitled to breast screening every three years if you ask for it. You can get details of your local breast screening unit by dialling 111 or, in Scotland, 08454 242424. Or ask your GP or practice nurse.
Myth: I’ve found a change in my breast but I don’t feel unwell or in any pain. I don’t need to go to the doctor about it.
Even if you feel well it is still important to visit your GP and get any changes checked out. There usually aren’t any other physical symptoms when you spot a change.
Myth: I’ve found a lump in my breast; it must be cancer.
Most breast changes won’t turn out to be cancer but even if it is the earlier it’s diagnosed, the more likely it is that treatment will be successful. Also, a lump is not the only sign or symptom of possible breast cancer. If you find any change in or around your breast that is not normal for you, go to your GP straight away.
Myth: Men don’t get breast cancer.
Although it’s not very common, men can get breast cancer since both men and women have breast tissue. Of the 55,000 diagnoses every year, about 400 of them are in men. So it’s important for men to be breast aware too.
We’re here to help
If you have any breast cancer or breast health concerns you can call our free Helpline for support and information.
Around a quarter of the calls we take are questions about breast health from people unsure about what could increase the risk of breast cancer, how to get screening or worried about a change in their breast.