Being breast aware prompts early detection of cancer

People, Health and Care
14:41, Monday, 4th October 2021

This Breast Cancer Awareness month people across North Lincolnshire are being reminded of the early warning signs and symptoms of breast cancer, and the vital role regular checking for early detection plays in saving lives.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK, with 1 in 7 women diagnosed with the condition during their lifetime.

One of the most common noticeable symptoms is a lump or area of thickened breast tissue.

Anyone experiencing this or any of the following symptoms should see visit their GP:

  • a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  • discharge / fluid from either of your nipples (which may be streaked with blood)
  • a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
  • dimpling on the skin of your breasts
  • a rash on or around your nipple
  • a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast.

Being breast aware and understanding what a ‘normal’ look and feel is for your breast tissue boosts the chances of detecting the condition earlier, making mastectomy (breast removal) or chemotherapy less likely.

There are lots of useful resources to help people identify the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.

UK based charity, CoppaFeel has produced a helpful video on where and what to look for when checking breast tissue areas; including the chest, up to the collarbone and under arms, and also offers a free text message service to prompt regular monthly checking.

Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance also host free Cancer Champion Awareness sessions, helping to ensure thousands of people can spot possible early signs of cancer in themselves, friends and relatives.

Book your place on an upcoming session on their website. Training can also be arranged for workplaces, educational settings or voluntary groups. To book a closed group awareness session, email: eryccg.cancerchampion@nhs.net or call 07519 120809.

Sharon Hornsby, a Contact Officer at Humberside Police, was diagnosed with breast cancer after she attended one of the awareness sessions, recognised a sign and booked an appointment with her GP.

She said:

“In the Cancer Champion training, they’d shown a poster of ‘Know Your Lemons’ [the graphic at the top of this story]. It’s supposed to indicate your nipple and breast area and what to look out for. I realised that one of the lemons was actually me.

“I called the GP, who examined me and referred me to Castle Hill Breast Unit. I had the mammogram and ultrasound and the doctor said ‘you’ve two tumours in your breast and we need to take a biopsy’

“I was told I had cancer…unfortunately mine had spread to the lymph node, so I got the shock diagnosis that I needed chemotherapy.”

After the gruelling process Sharon emerged cancer free, incredibly grateful for the training and poster.

She added:

“If I hadn’t have seen that lemon poster, if I hadn’t done the Cancer Champion training, where would I be?”

Watch a video of Sharon’s story on YouTube.

Local support

The following organisations can offer support to those living with cancer or caring for an individual with the condition.

  • Scunthorpe Macmillan offer confidential support to those living with or affected by the impacts of cancer. Visit their website.
  • The North Lincolnshire Carers’ Support Centre works with carers to ensure they receive the right support and information at the right time, enabling them to continue looking after members of their family, friends and neighbours. Visit their website for further details.
  • Brigg and District Breast Cancer Support Group. Visit their website or email: info@breastcancersupport-brigg.org.uk.
  • The North Lincs Active Exercise referral scheme supports people with existing medical conditions, including cancer, to become more active and improve their health and wellbeing. For more information email: referral@northlincs.gov.uk.

Thank you to the Know Your Lemons Foundation for use of the graphic.