Inspired by John Baker's blog where he asks "October is breast-cancer awareness month. Have you put something pink on your site?" and having read this article today in The Times, I'd like to draw your attention to something: breast cancer in younger women.
Kylie Minogue is probably the most notable sufferer and it's so good to see her return to health and life as she knew it before she felt the blow of that diagnosis.
However, on a personal level, my best friend died in 2003 some four months short of her 39th birthday. In the year in which she was first diagnosed, she told me something of note. She was diagnosed in the January and said that the hospital had told her that they'd had the same number of diagnoses for breast cancer in women under 40 in that month alone, as they had had in the previous year.
The Times article says "The number of women with breast cancer has rocketed in the past 30 years, but death rates for the disease are falling, researchers say". Improved care and treatment methods help no end. Reasons for the increase are stated as:
"The rise has been blamed on dietary changes, an ageing population and because women are having smaller families and breast-feeding less.
Mark Matfield, scientific consultant for the Association for International Cancer Research, said: 'It is hard to pin down exactly what has caused this rise.' Lifestyle factors, such as the increase in obesity and alcohol consumption, had a significant impact 'but so has the introduction of the national screening programme in the late 1980s'.
He added: 'Better nutrition also means that the age of the first period in women is falling and this increases risk later in life. It is a complex picture'.”
Life is ever changing. Please don't think of this as a disease exclusive to the over 50s. Experience leads to awareness.
"Ruth Picardie and Beth Wagstaff were both in their early thirties when they were diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996, and they felt that there was very little support available at the time that addressed younger women." The idea for The Lavender Trust came from those two women. The Trust at Breast Cancer Care raises money specifically to fund information and support for younger women with breast cancer.
From Cancer Research UK: "In men, breast cancer is a rare disease. There are about 300 cases diagnosed each year in the UK, compared with almost 42,000 cases of breast cancer in women. That's about one man for every 140 women diagnosed".
We all have breasts and we all need to check them out - regularly and whatever sex or age we are. The activities of prevention measures are what save lives.
Let this October be your start, if you've taken that part of your body for granted before.