October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month which aims to raise awareness of one of the most common forms of cancer and the benefits of early detection and treatment.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK with nearly 12,000 people dying from it every year; it is also the second most common cause of death from cancer in women.
Every 10 minutes, one person in the UK is diagnosed with breast cancer and one in eight women will develop it at some point in their lives. Contrary to common perception, it can affect men too, though in far fewer numbers. So it’s important for all of us to be aware of the signs of the disease.
Last year, nearly half of all cancer claims paid by Dentists’ Provident were for breast cancer, totalling over £200,000. And this year there have been half a dozen new claims already, some from dentists only in their 20s and early 30s.
Researchers are constantly looking at the best ways to prevent reoccurrence of the disease. In April this year, new findings presented at the European Breast Cancer Conference and published in The Lancet showed that certain early stage breast cancers were now found to have lower rates of reoccurrence and death when radiotherapy was given after a mastectomy. And to continue improving access to innovative and effective new treatments, NHS England announced this summer that the Cancer Drugs Fund, which gives patients access to new drugs, which are not normally funded by the NHS, would be given additional funding to the tune of £160 million, to offer fresh hope to sufferers.
Older women and those with a significant family history of breast cancer are most at risk. Like many other cancers, early detection and intervention is key to helping deliver effective treatments and improving survival rates, so regular self-examination plays a crucial role in the early detection of the disease.
The charity Breast Cancer Care constantly campaigns to promote the benefits of early detection and provide useful information, checklists, support and advice. At the end of last year, Breast Cancer Care produced a very helpful app, with Philips, which helps people to be breast aware, with a clear step-by-step guide for what changes to look out for and what to do if you find them; you can download this free from the usual app stores.
Visit www.breastcancercare.org.uk or call their Helpline on 0808 800 6000 to find out more.