Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK with about 48,000 women getting it each year. Most (8 out of 10) are over 50, but younger women, and in rare cases, men, can also get breast cancer.
- All women over 50 should have a mammogram (x‐ray picture of the breast) every three years. This is available at your local hospital or mobile screening unit.
- Women aged 50-70 are invited to attend an appointment every three years.
- Women aged over 70 can request an appointment every three years.
A review of the breast cancer screening programme estimated that it saves around 1,400 lives a year in England.
If you are between 50 and 70 please speak to your GP if you have not received an invite.
If you are over 70 just get in touch with your local breast screening unit to make an appointment or speak to your GP.
Be clear on cancerFinding breast cancer early could save your life. It is important to be breast aware – get to know how your breasts look and feel normally, so that you’ll find it easier to spot something unusual. Feel the whole of your breasts and your armpits to see if anything seems different.
If you notice an unusual change go and see your GP. You are not wasting anyone's time, and if it isn't serious, your mind will be put at rest. But if it is cancer, early diagnosis can make all the difference. The sooner cancer is detected, the better the chances of successful treatment.
Possible signs of breast cancer include:
• a lump in your breast or armpit
• nipple changes
• changes to the skin of your breast
• changes in the shape or size of your breast
• pain in your breast or armpit
Reduce your chances of getting breast cancer by:
• maintaining a healthy weight - keeping a healthy body weight is a great way to help reduce your risk of cancer.
• cutting down on alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to a number of health problems and is linked with breast cancer. By drinking less, you’ll reduce your health risks.
• looking after yourself
• keep fit and stay active. Swimming, exercise classes, dancing or yoga – no matter what type of exercise, the more you can do, the better.
Whatever your age, and even if you attend screening, it’s important to remain breast aware. If you find anything unusual or notice a possible symptom, don’t wait for your screening appointment – see your doctor right away to be on the safe side.
Read the stories of others who spotted the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, and what happened next on the NHS Choices website