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This week sees the end of Breast Cancer awareness month. This annual campaign brings thousands of organisations all over the world together, to highlight the important of breast awareness, education and research.

According to Best Cancer Care, every year 55,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer. That’s the equivalent of one person every 10 minutes.

Breast cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer in women in the UK. Although rare, men can be affected – with around 400 diagnosed each year.

They state that the three main risk factors to getting breast cancer are:

  1. Gender – women are more at risk than men
  2. Getting older – more than 80% of women diagnosed are over 50, and most men are over 60.
  3. Significant family history – although uncommon, 5% of people with breast cancer have the faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.

Know your body

No one knows your body like you do, so it’s really important that you check your breasts regularly and report any changes to your doctor.

It doesn’t always have to be a lump. It could be a change in shape or size, redness or rash around your nipple, discharge, swelling in your armpit or around your collar bone, or constant pain in your breast and armpit.

If you have any of these symptoms you must contact your doctor and seek further tests. Remember that 9 out of 10 breast lumps are not cancerous.

Catch it early

Cancer Research UK state: “when diagnosed at its earliest stage, around all women with breast cancer will survive their disease for five years or more, compared with 3 in 20 women when the disease diagnosed at the latest stage.”

In 2012 Cancer Research UK and Tesco published a report called “Delay kills”. This looks at all types of cancer and the impact of delayed diagnosis on the patient.

It states that cancer tends to be diagnosed at a later stage in the UK, compared to other countries with comparable health care systems.

Patients are often diagnosed when the cancer has already spread – which is why the UK has the worst cancer survival rate in Europe.

Part of this can be explained by the barriers people put up to seeing their doctor, perhaps worried at what the outcome might be. However, a significant contributor is the difficultly people have making an appointment to see their GP.

Earlier this year the Telegraph reported that GPs have been issued with a checklist of symptoms to help them spot the disease.

It is believed that delays in diagnosing and treating cancer in the UK are costing up to 10,000 lives a year.

Do you think that you may be a victim of a delay in diagnosis of cancer? Then contact one of our experts. Pryers are a leading national firm of Clinical Negligence Lawyers and have extensive experience of cases involving negligent medical treatment. Our dedicated team of lawyers and experts are well equipped to investigate and advise on all issues of medical treatment.

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