Every year, October is used to raise awareness of breast cancer across the UK, and provide advice on where support is available and how to lower your risk factor of developing the disease.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 15 percent of all cancer cases.

Every year, over 55,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK, with only around half of these likely to live for more than ten years after diagnosis.

Though it primarily presents itself in women aged over 50, younger women and men can also develop breast cancer.

Hospital staff and charity workers in South Yorkshire provide excellent care and support at some of the most difficult times during family life.

This means so much to people across Barnsley, and we do not take these services for granted.

However, if we catch cancer early enough, treatment can be less complicated, making things easier for both patients and staff.

It is important to know the warning signs:

  • New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit).

  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.

  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.

  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.

  • Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.

These are generally the most common symptoms to take notice of, however if you spot something else that doesn’t seem quite right, make sure you reach out to your doctor as soon as possible.

Though there are some cases which are unfortunately not preventable, Breast Cancer UK estimates that at least a quarter of cases could have been avoided.

A great place to start is trying to eat healthier and drink less alcohol. Charities emphasise that this does not mean eating entirely ‘clean’, rather opting for meals with fewer processed foods included and trying to have a few more alcohol-free days a week.

It is also important to remember that there are lots of other factors contributing to each case of breast cancer, so drinking alcohol or eating unhealthy foods will not mean that you will be diagnosed with breast cancer. However, evidence shows that the risk starts to increase even at lower levels of drinking.

Another positive change recommended by several charities and research groups is engaging in around 150 minutes of physical activity each week. The risk of breast and bowel cancer in particular is reduced with regular exercise, which also comes with other health benefits, such as working towards preventing heart disease and improving mental health.

Waiting times for cancer treatment are longer than they should be at the moment, which is of course a worrying thought for people across the country.

Backlogs must be tackled quickly and effectively to bring waiting times down, but in the meantime, it is important to consider the small changes that can be made to make a big difference to our future health.

Yorkshire has the third worst cancer outcome in England. Though there are many factors contributing to this statistic, including the vast geography of the area, there are actions that can be taken to prevent more serious cancer cases, such as attending regular screenings when invited to do so.

The earlier abnormalities are checked, the earlier the diagnosis, and the greater the prognosis for survival.

If you or someone you care about is affected by cancer, you can access support from lots of organisations, such as Macmillan, Breast Cancer UK, Cancer Research UK, and local organisations such as South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Cancer Alliance.