We are winning the battle but the fight goes on. That’s the message from the latest figures showing breast cancer survival rates.
The latest figures from Breast Cancer Care show that more than eight out of 10 (82%) of sufferers survive breast cancer beyond five years, more than three quarters survive it beyond 10 years and almost two out of three survive it beyond 20 years!
But with the good news comes a warning – keep on checking, as early detection is still crucial to survival rates.
As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Mr Jonathan Dawson, who holds regular clinics at BMI Three Shires Hospital in Northampton, said: “There have been major breakthroughs in treatments over the last ten years but regular‘self checks’ are still the most important weapon in the fight against the illness.”
His views are supported by breast cancer sufferer Charlotte Fairhead. She said: I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t been performing regular checks. I didn’t have a family history of breast cancer and so thought this didn’t apply to me.
“One day I noticed that my bra wasn’t fitting comfortably but I just thought that I had put on weight, it didn’t even occur to me that there could have been anything wrong so I ignored it.”
Thirty-eight-year-old Charlotte, of Mawsley, Northants, added: “When I started to get some pain in my right breast it made me carry out a check which led me to finding the lump.
“I have learned some valuable lessons and just urge women not to make the same mistake. Don’t think it won’t happen to you! No matter what your age or family history, regular self-checks are vital and if you do find a lump or anything you are not sure about – no matter how trivial – don’t wait, get to your doctors immediately.
“Cancer doesn’t wait for you to make up your mind!”
Mr Dawson added: “There is no right or wrong way to check your breasts but it is important to know your body so you can then recognise any subtle changes,” he said.
“Current guidelines state that you do not need to perform self-breast examinations at any set interval or in any prescribed manner as long as you do it regularly and thoroughly.
“You should know the signs of the breast cancer and know what is normal for your body. It is important to remember to check your breasts and your armpits regularly and see your GP if you are worried.”
“The most important thing is not to be complacent. It is vitally important to remember that regardless of family history or genetic predisposition, everyone should be breast aware. It really is the most effective way of saving lives!”