Breast cancer screening looks for early signs of the disease in otherwise healthy people that do not have any symptoms.
If you are concerned that you have symptoms of breast cancer, you should:
- contact your GP
- call 111
NHS Breast Screening Programme
The NHS provides its free NHS Breast Screening Programme to all women aged between 50 and 70 at a cost of about £100 million each year.
Screening uses an x-ray known as mammogram and every woman is invited for a mammogram every 3 years.
If you are over 70, you can ask for your breast screening to continue every 3 years.
Throughout England and in Solihull the breast screening programme is being extended to women aged 43 to 73 years old.
The NHS Choices website provides a full introduction to the breast cancer screening process and further information about breast cancer.
You can also find further information about the UK NHS Breast Cancer Screening programme from the Cancer Research UK website.
Understanding breast cancer screening
Looking for the early signs of a disease in an individual is known as screening. The screening process can:
- find changes in the body that may not be a sign of cancer
- allow for early treatment to prevent cancer developing later
- give a greater chance that cancer can be cured if detected
In addition to the breast cancer screening programme, there are 2 other cancer screening programmes in Solihull:
Understanding your own body is an important part of reducing your risk of developing many types of cancer and other illnesses.
Many breast tumours are first spotted by the individual themselves. This may be because they:
- are below the age that screening is offered
- have stopped having screening at 70 years old
- develop symptoms between breast cancer screenings
According to Cancer Research UK, the earlier a breast cancer is diagnosed:
- the easier it is likely to be treated
- the better the chance of cure
The symptoms of breast cancer for women
The common symptoms of breast cancer for women are:
- lumps or thickened areas in either breast
- changes in the size or shape of either breast
- discharge from either of nipple (this may be streaked with blood)
- lumps or swellings in either armpit
- dimpled areas on either breast
- a rash on or around either nipple
- changes to the appearance of either nipple, such as becoming sunken or more pronounced
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you should visit your doctor, but, it is important to note that, according to the NHS:
- 90 per cent of breast lumps are not cancerous
- experiencing breast pain is not normally a sign of breast cancer
The symptoms of breast cancer for men
The NHS says that the main symptom of breast cancer in men is a hard lump in either breast, usually located underneath the nipple.
Less common symptoms can include:
- the nipple turning in on itself
- a hard, inflamed and sore nipple
- leaking fluid from the nipple
While these symptoms can denote breast cancer in men, it is the most unlikely diagnosis.
If you do experience any of these symptoms, you should visit your doctor.