Have You Checked Yourself For Breast Cancer?

Have You Checked Yourself For Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers globally. However, approximately one-third of all cases can be prevented. Unfortunately, not all cases of breast cancer are curable. 

It is the 4th most common cause of cancer death and the 2nd most common cause of death in women. In the UK alone, around 11,400 women and 85 men die from breast cancer every year – which is nearly 32 deaths every day! Isn't it shocking? 

We all know that October is known for Halloween. But how many of us know that it is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

Am I or is my partner susceptible to breast cancer?

Many factors influence your chance of developing breast cancer. Some are genetic in nature. Others are determined by what occurred to you while you were growing up, your surroundings, and your lifestyle today. Whatever your vulnerability, you can make small lifestyle changes like keeping a healthy diet and staying active to provide yourself with the best potential protection. Research has shown that implementing lifestyle changes can greatly lower your risk of developing breast cancer.

Photo credit: Robert Stokoe

Although rare, men can also suffer from breast cancer. Several risk factors are shared by both men and women, but not all. Data suggests that breast cancer affects between 370 – 400 men a year in the UK. However, over 80 men die annually from breast cancer due to a lack of information and awareness that even men are vulnerable to this type of cancer and by ignoring relevant signs.

So how do I prevent and check myself for breast cancer?

Breast cancer, in most cases, if detected early, is preventable. Therefore, it is recommended and encouraged that women and men both regularly check their breasts and chest once every month.

Follow the simple step-by-step chart and video by Breastcanceruk.org to start your regular check-up at home. 

Image credit: https://walkthewalk.org

Some statistics and data by BreastCancerUK.org

Global Breast Cancer Statistics

  • In 2020, 11.7% of all cancers diagnosed were female breast cancer, making it the most common cancer worldwide.
  • In 2020, there were 2.26 million women diagnosed with breast cancer and 685,000 deaths globally.
  • As of the end of 2020, there were 7.8 million women alive who were diagnosed with breast cancer over the past 5 years.
  • In 2019, there were 25,100 men diagnosed with breast cancer and 12,100 deaths globally.

UK & England Breast Cancer Statistics

Incidence of breast cancer in the UK [average per annum, based on 2016-2018 data]

  • There are around 56,000 new cases of breast cancer every year: that’s over 150 cases every day.
  • In women, on average there were 55,545 new cases each year.
  • 18% of breast cancers were in women under 50 and 82% in those 50 or older.
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, being 15% of all new cancer cases.
  • 24% of breast cancers occurred in women over 75 years.
  • In men, there were 375 new breast cancer cases.
  • Each year, there are around 8300 in situ breast carcinoma cases, a non-invasive form of breast cancer that if untreated may lead to breast cancer.

Breast cancer in the UK and England over time

Breast cancer in UK women has:

  • Increased by 24% over 23 years
  • Increased by 5% over 10 years
  • Dropped by 2% over 3 years

In England in 2019:

  • Breast cancer became the most common cancer and accounts for 30% of all cancers
  • The rate of breast cancer in women has doubled over the past 50 years
  • The rate of breast cancer in men has remained stable over the past two decades
  • 86% of breast cancers in women are diagnosed at stage 1 or stage 2 (early-stage breast cancer which hasn’t spread beyond nearby lymph nodes)

The estimated overall risk of getting breast cancer

  • A woman born after 1960 and living in the UK has an estimated 1 in 7 lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.
  • However, it may also affect younger women.
  • A UK man’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is around 1 in 870.

Breast cancer mortality and survival

*Mortality data: In the UK [average per annum, based on 2017-2019 data]
*Survival data: In England (based on women diagnosed between 2002-2017 and followed up in 2018)
  • 48% of deaths from breast cancer are in those aged 75 and over.
  • Since the mid-1980s, breast cancer mortality rates have decreased by 45%.
  • Breast cancer is the most common cause of death for women between 35-49 years of age.
  • Breast cancer mortality rates have been declining and are projected to fall by 26% between 2014 and 2035.
  • The UK has had a consistently higher breast cancer mortality rate compared to most other OECD countries.
  • 97.3% of women diagnosed with breast cancer survive at least 1 year; this figure has increased by 3% since 2002.
  • 88.3% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are predicted to survive for 5 or more years.
  • 80.4% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are predicted to survive for 10 or more years.

The survival rates don’t vary significantly between the different UK nations; England stats are quoted here as 2018 UK stats were unavailable at the time of writing as per the breastcanceruk.org website.

Image credit: Anna Shvets

Dear Men, encourage your partner, wife, sister, mother and other women friends or well wishers about checking their breasts and proactively inform them about breast cancer. 

Dear Women, encourage your partner, husband, brother, dad and other male friends to regularly check their chest for any unfamiliarity. 

Let us together try our best to be more aware and open about the conversation around breast health and breast cancer.


*This blog is for awareness purposes only. If you may have any concerns or queries, we request you to kindly check with your GP for an appointment or for more information on this topic. 

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