Breast cancer awareness month UK: signs and symptoms to look out for and how to book a screening

One in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime

Thursday, 1st October 2020, 3:46 pm
The coronavirus pandemic has meant that over one million women in the UK have missed vital breast cancer screenings (Photo: Shutterstock)
The coronavirus pandemic has meant that over one million women in the UK have missed vital breast cancer screenings (Photo: Shutterstock)

In the UK, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer, with the NHS stating that one in eight women are diagnosed with it in their life. It doesn’t just affect women - roughly 350 men are also diagnosed with it each year in the UK.

Every year, Breast Cancer Awareness Month runs throughout October, with charities, brands, celebrities and more getting on board to raise awareness and money for the fight against breast cancer.

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This is everything you need to know - from how you can get involved to the main signs and symptoms of breast cancer to look out for.

What is Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an annual campaign which involves thousands of organisations, aiming to shine a light on the importance of breast cancer awareness, education and research.

Almost one million women in the UK have missed vital breast screenings due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with charity Breast Cancer Now saying that “now more than ever” it’s important to raise awareness.

Throughout October, Breast Cancer Now asks people to campaign, volunteer and fundraise to support the care, support and research undertaken by the charity.

What is Wear It Pink Day?

Wear It Pink Day will take place on 23 October 2020. It is Breast Cancer Now’s flagship fundraising event.

On Wear It Pink Day, people across the UK are asked to hold a “pink dress down day” at school, work or elsewhere in the community. Everyone taking part wears something pink and makes a donation to Breast Cancer Now.

If you want to hold your own official Wear It Pink event, you can register for your fundraising pack on the Wear It Pink website.

There are a whole host of ways you can plan your Wear It Pink event, like holding a Big Pink Quiz, running a pink-themed bake sale, or playing pin the beak on the flamingo - the resources for which are all available on the Wear It Pink website, as well as other posters, bunting and decorations.

Make sure that your Wear it Pink event still adheres to all social distancing and Covid-19 guidelines.

Alternatively, you can make a donation to Breast Cancer Now on the website.

What are other ways to get involved?

As well as Wear It Pink Day, there are other ways to get involved with Breast Cancer Awareness Month throughout October, and the rest of the year.

You can campaign with Breast Cancer Now by registering on the Breast Cancer Now website. You’ll then be kept up to date with ways in which you can help people that are affected by breast cancer.

You can also help Breast Cancer Now raise money by volunteering. You can do a Bucket Collection, join a fundraising group, or become a Collection Tin volunteer. You can find out more information on the website here.

There is also a range of Breast Cancer Awareness Month products you can buy in a range of shops. The limited edition Tickled Pink clothing and accessories range from water bottles, notebooks, pajamas, aprons, cushions, mugs, shoes and more.

These are some of the brands stocking Tickled Pink items:

- Asda

- GHD

- Cath Kidston

- Skechers

- Sofology

- River Island

What are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer?

Breast cancer can occur in women and men, meaning that everyone should be aware of the signs and symptoms.

The first sign that most people notice is a lump or an area of thickened tissue in their breast or chest.

The NHS says, “Most breast lumps are not cancerous, but it’s always best to have them checked out by the doctor.”

You should see a 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 nipple

- A lump or swelling in either armpit

- Dimpling on the skin around the breasts

- A rash on or around either nipple

- A change in appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into the breast

When you see your GP, they will examine your breasts, after which they might:

- say there’s no need for further investigation

- ask you to come back after a short period of time

- refer you to a breast clinic

Being referred to a breast clinic doesn’t mean that you definitely have breast cancer - it just means that more tests are needed in order to determine what’s going on.

In the UK, women aged between 50 and 71 are invited for a bread cancer screening every three years.