About 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime, making it the most common type of cancer in the UK. This breast cancer awareness month, doctors in Sefton are coming together to encourage people to be ‘breast aware’.
Dr Debbie Harvey, Macmillan GP and cancer clinical lead at NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Breast cancer can affect people of any age, so at least once a month, all people with breasts should self-examine them to check for lumps or a change in size or shape.
“You should speak to your GP if you notice any of the following:
· a new lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast that was not there before
· a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
· a discharge of fluid from either of your nipples
· a lump or swelling in either armpit
· dimpling on the skin of your breasts
· a rash on or around your nipple
· a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast.
“Breast changes can happen for many reasons, and most of them aren’t serious. However, if you find any changes that aren’t normal for you it’s vital to speak to your GP as soon as possible to rule out breast cancer.”
Mr Lee Martin, consultant breast surgeon at Aintree University Hospital, said: “During the lockdown, we saw breast cancer referrals fall and we’re concerned that some people have put off reporting symptoms and concerns to their GP. It is important that people know that breast services are here for them, and all possible steps have been taken to ensure patient safety.
“As the likelihood of getting breast cancer increases with age, all people between the ages of 50 and 70 who have breasts are invited for screening every three years.
“If you are due for your breast screening, make sure you are registered with a GP and that your contact details are correct, you’ll receive a letter inviting you to book an appointment. Early diagnosis saves lives, so please do attend breast screening when invited.”
Dr Graeme Allan, Macmillan GP and cancer clinical lead at NHS Southport and Formby CCG said: “Understandably, many people are anxious about attending face-to-face assessments or treatments at the moment due to the pandemic. We would like to reassure people that extra measures have been put in place to keep patients and staff safe.
“Although coronavirus has changed the way that GP practices work, your GP is still there for you. Your practice will arrange a call or video consultation in the first instance and will see you face-to-face in a safe way if this is required.
“If you are asked to come into your GP practice, it’s really important that you attend – unless you have symptoms of Covid-19 or are self-isolating.”
- NHS advice about checking your breasts
- NHS information about breast screening
- Cancer Research UK information about breast cancer symptoms
- NHS information on breast screening for transgender people