Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2021 Begins

Around the world, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is marked in October. It gives people who have been affected by the disease a chance to raise awareness and crucial funds for research.

It comes as the UK slowly returns to a sense of normality, after the Covid-19 pandemic presented a huge challenge to cancer detection and treatment.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation has said that “the past year has posed a challenge to just about everything, and breast cancer is no exception”. It explained that for 30 years, it has supported women with breast cancer, adding that “this is our moment to rise up and do even more”.

Importance of early detection

This year’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes after the high-profile death of singer Sarah Harding. The Girls Aloud star died in September 2021 after a battle with the disease. It was reported that the pandemic discouraged her from seeking treatment, which meant it was too late when she did get medical attention.

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) advises that although “people with cancer and their families might feel especially worried about how the coronavirus might affect them,” those who think they may have cancer should still see their GPs and get the tests they need.

CRUK has highlighted the importance of an early breast cancer diagnosis. The charity explained that “almost all” breast cancer patients who are diagnosed at the earliest stage survive for at least five years.

Recognising the symptoms

Breast Cancer Now is campaigning to encourage women to recognise the signs and symptoms of the disease. It has provided a guide to the symptoms to be shared on social media. It’s hoped this will help more people understand when they should seek medical advice.

The charity has also published a guide to secondary breast cancer, which is when the disease has spread to another part of the body. In its 2019 survey of people living with incurable secondary breast cancer, it found that 24% of respondents had to visit their GP three or more times before receiving a diagnosis.

As a result, it is trying to help “patients and healthcare professionals know the signs and symptoms of secondary breast cancer.”

Getting tested

If you’ve seen your GP and they think you might have breast cancer, they will usually refer you to a breast clinic. You may undergo several tests in your visit. You will typically have a physical examination, and then an ultrasound scan and x-ray, which is known as a mammogram.

If your mammogram shows an abnormal area, you might then need a biopsy. This is when the doctor or nurse takes a sample of the abnormal tissue and sends it for testing.

There are a number of other tests you might have at the clinic.

Raising awareness of breast cancer

Breast Cancer Now is encouraging people to get involved and raise awareness of the disease. It has suggested a range of activities to do that and raise funds for research into breast cancer and care for those living with it.

Among its suggestions are holding fundraising events, such as an afternoon tea or bake sale. It has also suggested hosting a golfing day or a physical challenge, such as a charity run or bike ride.

The charity has also urged people to share their stories. It has encouraged those living with the disease or their loved ones to use their experiences and help to raise awareness of breast cancer, the most common cancer in the UK.

There is support and resources available for those with the disease. Some useful organisations include:


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