October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a worldwide annual campaign involving thousands of organisations which highlights the importance of breast awareness, education and research. The UK charities involved include Breast Cancer Care, Breast Cancer Now and the WearItPink campaign.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the UK. It can also affect men, although this is rare, with around 340 men diagnosed annually.
Every year nearly 60,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK, which is the equivalent of one person every 10 minutes. One in eight women in the UK will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, and one in seven women aged 50-70 who attend routine mammograms never check their breasts for signs of cancer outside these appointments, reports Breast Cancer Care.
If every woman regularly checked her breasts, an estimated 1,500 lives a year could be saved, but at the moment less than half of women in the UK check regularly.
Lucie Prothero, senior associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, who acts for clients with breast cancer, said: “We wholeheartedly support Breast Cancer Awareness Month’s campaign to increase awareness of breast cancer and raise funds for top level research to fight the disease.
“As with most cancers, the key to better survival prospects is normally early detection, so improving public awareness and encouraging regular self-checking could not be more important. Sadly, we sometimes see the terrible outcome of delayed diagnosis of breast cancer. A key factor contributing to delayed diagnosis is often a lack of awareness amongst the public about the signs and symptoms to be worried about, and the need to see GPs promptly when symptoms persist. We receive many enquiries from people with breast cancer, or their families, who are concerned that the opportunity for an earlier diagnosis was missed. Often in circumstances where there is a claim for negligence regarding breast cancer, the patient has not been properly investigated for a breast lump, or the results of investigations have not been properly reported or followed up. But it is also true that in many cases, if the patients had been checking their breasts regularly, then subtle breast changes might have been spotted sooner, which would have given them a greater chance of successful treatment.”
For care, support and information, contact Breast Cancer Care free on 0808 800 600 and Breast Cancer Now on 0333 20 70 300, or visit their websites: http://breastcancer-charity.org/ and http://breastcancernow.org/.
If you, a member of your family or a friend have any concerns regarding a delayed diagnosis of breast cancer, our specialist oncology team may be able to assist.