Breast Cancer 

What is breast cancer? 


Breast cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the breast.  It can start in one or both breasts. 

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK.   

Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 50, but younger women can also get breast cancer so it’s important that all women, whatever their age check their breasts regularly. 


Breast cancer occurs mostly in women, although rare, men can also get breast cancer. 

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Risk factors of breast cancer  


Age – women aged 50 and over have an increased risk 

Weight & menopause – if you have experienced the menopause and are overweight or obese  


Alcohol – drinking alcohol can increase your risk 


Family history – having a close relative (mother or sister) who has had breast cancer puts you at a greater lifetime risk of developing breast cancer 


More risks associated with breast cancer. 

How can you reduce your risk of breast cancer?  


Screening – attend your breast screening when invited to do so (screening is offered to all women between the age of 50 and 71, you must be registered with a GP)

Be breast aware – get to know how your breasts normally look and feel.  Being breast aware helps you to spot any changes that may occur. 

Manage your weight – maintain a healthy weight  


Get more active – maintain regular physical exercise – exercise guidelines 


Manage your Alcohol consumption – keep an eye on how much alcohol you drink, stay within the recommended units  

Common symptoms of breast cancer  


The 3 main symptoms of breast cancer are: 

  • A new lump in the breast or armpit 

  • A change in how the breast or the nipple looks - skin, colour, shape, size, rash or crusting  

  • Unusual liquid (discharge from either nipple) 

Early diagnosis of breast cancer increases your chances of successful treatment. In this video, Dr Riya Amin talks about the ABCD of breast cancer symptoms and what you should be looking out for. If you notice anything different or unusual in your breasts, then get it checked. Remember to regularly check your breasts for any changes.

Testing for breast cancer 

Breast Screening - Anyone registered with a GP as female will be invited for their NHS breast screening every 3 years between the ages of 50 and 71.  Screening is one of the most effective ways to find early signs of cancer, so it’s important that you attend as soon as it’s possible. 

GP appointment – If you are concerned, make an appointment with your GP, they’ll ask about your symptoms and whether you have a family history of breast cancer.  They may also carry out an examination. 

Specialist breast unit – If your symptoms suggest you require further investigation, your GP can refer you to your local breast unit for further tests.  Further test information. 

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Who to contact for help or information​

GP Directory - locate your local GP


Local cancer support services - find support and information in our local cancer directory 


Cancer Care Map is a simple, online resource that aims to help you find cancer support services in your local area