Experts call for better education of breast cancer amongst younger audiences
Breast Cancer Despite the over 50s being most at risk of breast cancer, campaigners are seeing the benefit of reaching people earlier in life.
Being breast aware from a young age could one day save your life
“We need to stamp out the late detection and misdiagnosis of breast cancer by encouraging young people to check their breasts and report any change to their GP,” explains Kris Hallenga, founder of CoppaFeel!, the first UK charity dedicated to educating younger audiences on the importance of being breast aware.
The most recent figures from Cancer Research UK show that, although more prevalent in women aged 50 to 69, breast cancer is the most common cancer among the under 40s, and accounts for a massive 45 per cent of all cancers in women aged 25 to 49.
Kris herself was diagnosed with the condition at 23. But it had taken over a year for her GP to realise that she could have breast cancer, largely because of the widespread misconception that the condition is an older age disease.
“At that time I realised that there wasn’t any breast cancer information available to the under 35s; the majority of it was aimed at the over 50s. It is vital to get the message out there that young people, too, need to check their breasts and know the signs and symptoms of the condition, so that they don’t find themselves in my situation as a result of being diagnosed at an incurable stage of the disease.”
How do I know if I have breast cancer?
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer include lumps or thickening; skin changes such as dimpling, puckering or rashes; swelling or pain in breasts or armpits; alterations in shape or size in one or both breasts; and nipple discharge, inversion or change in direction.
Unfortunately many people don’t check their breasts for fear of what they might find. This is one of the key barriers to young people getting to know their breasts as they don’t want to be thinking about cancer at that age.
We encourage everyone from a young age to get to know what is normal for their breasts, and to start checking them for changes
Being breast aware and regularly checking your breasts increases the likelihood of detecting breast cancer early, when it’s easier to treat and the chances of survival are greater. So, it is really important to do it, and to report immediately anything unusual to a GP.
“Unfortunately many people don’t check their breasts for fear of what they might find,” says Kris. “This is one of the key barriers to young people getting to know their breasts as they don’t want to be thinking about cancer at that age.”
Yet, early detection is crucial to beating breast cancer. We encourage everyone from a young age to get to know what is normal for their breasts, and to start checking them for changes. This, in addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, could one day save their lives.”