BMI St Edmunds: Supporting Macmillan’s fundraising drive

Macmillan World's Biggest Coffee Morning

Macmillan World's Biggest Coffee Morning - Credit: Archant

Coffee cups will be raised throughout the UK this month as millions of people take part in the Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning.

BMI St Edmunds Hospital will be supporting the event on September 26 with the aim of raising money with hopes of beating last year’s national total of £20million.

The most common cancer in the UK is breast cancer. About 50,000 women are still diagnosed with breast cancer each year and although more than 80% of women are still alive five years after diagnosis, around 12,000 women die of the disease each year.

Jane Aitkin, a consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon at BMI St Edmunds Hospital, stresses the importance of women making regular checks of their breasts and gives some tips on how best to carry out the checks.

She said: “The earlier breast cancer is spotted, then the better are our chances of beating it – it’s as simple as that.

“That means I cannot stress enough the importance of checking your own breasts on a regular basis. You are the person most likely to notice small changes so it is really up to you to keep a watch on your body.

“Self-checks are not a substitute for a mammogram or for regular exams by a healthcare professional but, as part of the entire breast health package, they can help to save your life.

Most Read

“And when you are checking don’t ignore even the smallest changes – if something doesn’t seem right visit your GP immediately. If the change you have noticed isn’t breast cancer then consider that a bonus. Your doctor would much rather give you the good news than see you at a later date and discover that what you spotted was serious.

“If an abnormality persists go back to your doctor and ask to be referred to the Breast Screening Services so that you can be given a mammogram.”

Even if your breasts look and feel like normal you must be on the lookout for any slight changes - a ball or lump may be easy to spot but sometimes it could just be an almost unnoticeable thickened band of skin or a hard area that does not move like the rest of the breast.

The breast cancer group Breakthrough encourages women to give themselves some TLC – Touch Look and Check. It’s a simple statement but, done properly, the TLC method can cover all aspects of self-examination and it is recommended women checkout their website.

She added: “Remember it is important to not just check the breast. Make sure you also examine the upper chest and the armpits. Is there any unusual pain or any change in skin texture?

“When you look at your breasts has one started to look bigger than the other? Has the nipple changed colour, has there been a discharge? Another tell-tale sign is the nipple becoming inverted – pointing in instead of out.”

One good idea is to use a mirror to check the breasts for pulls, dents, odd coloring, or lumps. Lean forward with your arms on hips then stand upright with both arms over your head – the more you do this the more you will get to know your breasts which, in turn, will make spotting changes easier.

When you are feeling for changes make sure you check in two or three different positions – laying on your back, standing up, leaning forward. This may sound like a lot of things to be aware of but once you get into a routine it will become simple and really won’t take much of your time.

In the end what are a few minutes a month compared to the consequences of not checking? Minutes don’t matter when you could be saving your own life.

Don’t get yourself stressed or upset about checking. Make it part of your monthly routine – if you treat yourself to a leisurely soak and scrub include the breast checks as one part of that.

The best time being about one week after the start of a period but any time is better than none at all. You wouldn’t go a month without brushing your teeth or washing your hair so why would you go a month without a breast check?

It may be an obvious thing to say but, in so many cases, early detection of breast cancer really is in your hands.