Breast cancer and coronavirus

Breast cancer remains the most common cancer in women in the UK with around 55,000 women and 370 men diagnosed each year. But early diagnosis really does save lives.

That’s why the hard workers at Health Awareness have launched a new campaign, gathering together some brilliant experts and charities who are all striving for greater awareness.

So for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re shining a light on their fantastic campaign – highlighting the vital information you need to know in these current circumstances.

The truth is, we can’t let breast cancer be forgotten. The more we come together to spread awareness, the more people out there will check their breasts for warning signs, and the more lives that will be saved. It’s that simple.

The coronavirus outbreak continues to be an extremely difficult and uncertain time for so many people affected by breast cancer.

Due to Covid-19, patients have had appointments, screening and treatments delayed. This is either to reduce their risk of infection, or simply because the NHS couldn’t cope with the demands during the peak of the pandemic. This has made breast cancer awareness fall by the wayside.

And while it is imperative that we all follow government guidelines to help beat the pandemic, it is also crucial we still make time to check our breasts and book a GP appointment should we find anything unusual.

Signs and symptoms

Anything unusual should be investigated with your GP. That’s why we should check our breasts regularly – the better we know our breasts, the easier it is to spot when something is wrong. Some key symptoms to check for are:

  • A lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit
  • A change to the skin, such as puckering or dimpling
  • A change in the colour of the breast – the breast may look red or inflamed
  • A change to the nipple, for example it has become pulled in (inverted)
  • A rash or crusting around the nipple
  • Any unusual liquid (discharge) from either nipple
  • Any changes in size or shape of the breast

Check your breasts now. Yep, right now.

The fact is, we all have breast tissue. Young, old, male, female. That’s why we should ALL get to know our chests by checking regularly. It is recommended that we do it at least once a month, but the best thing to do it to simply make it routine. The better we know our breasts, the quicker we will pick up when something is wrong.

The good news is that checking only takes a few minutes. However, the thing to remember is that it’s not just your breast you should be checking – but the surrounding area too, including the upper chest and armpits.

Always remember to give yourself a little TLC:

  • Touch your breasts: can you feel anything unusual?
  • Look for changes: does anything look different?
  • Check any changes with your GP

Tips on sorting a GP appointment during the pandemic

With 2020 leaving everyone confused and concerned, it’s important you all know that your GP still wants to hear from you if you are worried about your breasts. With there being fewer physical appointments available at the moment, you may be asked to participate in a virtual consultation first.

CoppaFeel – a wonderful charity who strive to give everyone the best chance of beating breast cancer – have provided some helpful tips on how to make your virtual consultation is easy as possible:

> If you would rather a male/female GP, you can always request that when you book.

> Ask a family member/friend to be with you for support.

> Write down any questions beforehand.

> Jot down when you first spotted the symptom(s), to tell the doctor.

> If you have periods, make a note of when your last one was, as the GP might ask.

> Recall any family history of breast cancer, as the GP might ask you about that too.

After examining your breasts, your GP may:

> feel that there’s no need for further investigation

> ask to see you for a physical examination

> refer you to a breast clinic

Finding additional support:

Breast Cancer Now is a great resource if you want further support. They have conducted world-class research and provided life-changing care to so many.

Visit their website to find out more or you can can call their free helpline to speak to one of their nurses: 0808 800 6000.

Featured imagery: Unsplash @anniespratt

Emily Jefferies

Figleaves Content Writer Emily Jefferies has written for multiple national titles and is here to keep you up-to-date on trends, offer style advice and review the latest launches.