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Breast Cancer Awareness Month encourages both sexes to think beyond the pink

Posted: 18/10/2017


What is Breast Cancer Awareness month?

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a worldwide annual campaign that aims to save lives. It involves thousands of organisations which hope to highlight the importance of breast awareness, education and research.

Campaigns

Many will have seen campaigns fronted by celebrities, such as Asda’s Tickled Pink campaign involving Amanda Holden and Frankie Bridge which raises money in partnership with Breast Cancer Now and Breast Cancer Care. Another campaign which particularly stands out is Marks and Spencer’s campaign for this year, which runs throughout October and includes seven women who have suffered from breast cancer. These women are the faces and bodies of the campaign, modelling items from the pink bras range. The campaign is inspiring as many of the participants explain that it gives them the chance to accept the changes in their bodies and promote body confidence and positivity after everything they have been through.

Marks and Spencer will donate 20% of proceeds from 27 pink bras throughout October, partnering with Breast Cancer Now, and should raise £13 million to fund the charity’s scientific research into the risk factors associated with breast cancer. It’s hoped that this initiative will prevent 9,000 cases a year by 2025.

How to get involved

  • make a donation
  • shop and raise money
  • wear it pink and fundraise
  • join in the campaign
  • volunteer to help out
  • arrange events and runs

Why is this important?

Breast cancer affects one in eight women in the UK, but genetic testing is only offered to women with a strong family history of the disease, although early detection is crucial for the best chance of survival. While breast cancer is often thought of as a disease that only affects women, hundreds of men are also diagnosed with it every year.

Breast cancer charity Walk the Walk aims to raise awareness of the disease and its symptoms, after studies revealed that women are almost doubly aware of signs to look out for in comparison to men. With the cancer developing in the small amount of breast tissue men have behind their nipples, the symptoms are very similar to those experienced by women. While 82% of men said they knew they could be affected by breast cancer, the YouGov poll for Walk the Walk found 54% never check for symptoms. It is therefore perhaps not surprising that men have a lower survival rate than women as they are often not diagnosed until their cancer has spread.

As with women, the likelihood of getting breast cancer is higher in men if there is a family history of the condition. The faulty BRCA2 gene, which raises the risk by 6% in men and up to 90% in women, can be inherited from either parent.

Around 350 men a year, mainly over-60s, are diagnosed with breast cancer in addition to the 55,000 women who are diagnosed and 11,000 who die. It is therefore more important than ever to continue to raise awareness and ensure that sufferers have access to the best possible service and treatment.

It is clear that the situation is improving. The American Cancer Society shared the results of a recent survey that confirms that over 320,000 lives have been saved as a result of broader screening and improved treatments. However, whilst this is encouraging, there are still many people whose symptoms are misdiagnosed or missed altogether, who are not offered appropriate investigations or medication and who are given negligent advice as to how best to manage and treat cancer.

Many will recall the shocking negligence displayed by breast surgeon Ian Paterson, who lied to his patients and exaggerated or invented the risk of cancer to convince them to undergo surgery. He also claimed payments for more expensive procedures. Paterson was sentenced to 20 years in jail after he was found guilty in April at Nottingham Crown Court of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three further wounding charges. After a lengthy wait, it was also recently confirmed that around 750 private patients operated on by the disgraced surgeon will receive a total of £37.2 million for the physical and psychological pain they suffered undergoing unnecessary treatment.

Although Ian Paterson’s actions are set apart by speculation that he had deliberate intent to ‘play God’ with victims lives, unfortunately it is not unusual for mistakes to be made in the course of treatment for breast cancer. Penningtons Manches acts for a number of clients who have experienced fairly basic failures in the care provided to them. In the main these cases involve a delay in diagnosis in scenarios such as GPs not referring patients with breast lumps, failure to recognise possible recurrence, misinterpretation of radiological investigations and lost results. All of these are avoidable with proper consideration and management. The clinical negligence team is also representing patients on a number of ongoing cases which relate to management of breast cancer when diagnosed – with issues such as inappropriate advice on treatment options. One client underwent an unnecessary mastectomy, leading to post-operative complications, which left her with a lack of breast tissue and extensive scarring. This has had a devastating impact on her confidence and personal relationships.

The team is happy to provide initial advice and have an informal, no obligation chat with anyone who has concerns about their care in relation to management of breast cancer. Please call freephone 0800 328 9545 or email clinnegspecialist@penningtonslaw.com for further information.


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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP