New research findings from Breast Cancer Care have found that there has been a marked increase in women being diagnosed with breast cancer either in pregnancy or while breastfeeding. One in 10 of the women in the research study reported spotting the signs while pregnant or breastfeeding.
A breast cancer diagnosis during pregnancy or soon after giving birth has many consequences for a young family, as some women find it difficult to bond with their baby, particularly as they are fearful of the future. Furthermore, more than a third of women in the study had to undergo treatment when their youngest child was aged five or under, which meant that they were too ill to care for them.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women in the UK, with nearly 50,000 people diagnosed every year. The lifetime risk for women of developing breast cancer has risen from one in nine to one in eight in just under a decade. Although the risk of breast cancer increases with age, studies are showing that more and young women are getting the disease, with one in five cases now diagnosed in women under 50 and a sharp increase in risk for women in their early 30s.
The first noticeable symptom of breast cancer is usually a lump or area of thickened breast tissue. Other symptoms of breast cancer include a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts, a lump or swelling in either of the armpits, dimpling on the skin of the breasts, and a change in the appearance of the nipple, such as becoming sunken into the breast.
Naomi Holland, an associate in the Penningtons Manches clinical negligence team, comments: “The research findings show that women are generally leaving it until later in life to have children and the average age of new mothers is now 30.2 years. As the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 45 is set to rise, and routine screening is only currently offered to women over the age of 50, it is crucial that women are aware of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and that they seek early advice from their GP if they have any concerns. If detected at the very early stages, most forms of breast cancer are highly treatable.”