Early detection improving survival rates for breast cancer
The Irish Cancer Society is calling on all women to become aware of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer during breast cancer awareness month this October.
The five year survival rate for breast cancer patients in Ireland is currently at 85% and the Society says early detection of the disease is a key factor in this. Early detection greatly increases the chances for successful treatment and according to National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI) statistics most breast cancers in Ireland are detected at an early stage. Over 40 per cent of invasive breast cancers are diagnosed at Stage two, while over 30 per cent are diagnosed at Stage one.
As part of its Cups against cancer fundraising campaign, the Society is urging members of the public to host a fundraising coffee morning during the month of October, donations from which will help fund lifesaving research and free services to support the 2,900 people who will get a breast cancer diagnosis this year. They are also encouraging people to use these events to talk about signs and symptoms of breast cancer and to ensure the women in their life know what to look for and steps they can take to spot breast cancer early.
Breast cancer is the most common form of invasive cancer affecting women in Ireland. The vast majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer are aged 50 to 64 (41 per cent), but younger women are also affected, with 23 per cent of diagnoses occurring in women under 50.
The Society is urging all women to be aware of the following signs and symptoms of breast cancer:
- A change in size or shape such as one breast becoming larger than the other
- A change in the skin such as puckering or dimpling (like orange peel) or redness
- A change in the direction or shape of your nipple, especially if it sinks into your breast or becomes irregular in shape
- An unusual discharge (liquid) from one or both of your nipples
- A change on or around the nipple such as a rash or flaky or crusted skin
- Swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone
- A lump or thickening in your breast
- Constant pain in one part of your breast or armpit
Naomi Fitzgibbon, Cancer Nurseline Manager, Irish Cancer Society said, “It is important that every woman is breast aware. This means knowing what is normal for you so that if any unusual change occurs, you will recognise it. The sooner you notice a change the better, because if cancer is found early, treatment is more likely to be successful. Get into the habit of looking at and feeling your breasts regularly, a good time to do this is in the shower or bath. If you notice something abnormal for you talk to your doctor without delay. Remember most changes won’t turn out to be breast cancer. But if they are, the sooner this is diagnosed the more effective treatment will be.”
There are also a number of ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer, including being a healthy weight, being active for 30 minutes a day at least five days a week, limiting alcohol intake, breastfeeding your baby, not smoking and by attending Breastcheck when called. All women aged 50 to 69 are invited to have a free mammogram every two years, see www.breastcheck.ie for more info.
To speak to a Cancer Nurse on any aspect of breast cancer contact the Cancer Nurseline on Freephone 1800 200 700, email email@example.com or drop into one of 13 Daffodil Centres in hospitals nationwide.
The Irish Cancer Society relies almost entirely on voluntary donations made by the public and companies to fund free services for breast cancer patients. Money raised through Cups against cancer coffee mornings will help provide advice and support to breast cancer patients, when they need it most, through the Freephone Cancer Nurseline and 13 Daffodil Centres around the country. These services provide support to women when they are looking for answers or just need to turn to someone who understands their diagnosis.
It will also funds transportation for chemotherapy patients through the Volunteer Driver Service which is vital for women who have no other way of getting to lifesaving treatment, and nursing care at home for end of life patients through the Night Nursing Service.
Members of the public can help by hosting a fundraising Cups against cancer coffee morning this October. For more information see www.cancer.ie/cupsagainstcancer.