October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and with breast cancer already high in the public consciousness following Angelina Jolie’s surgery back in May, we are expecting high demand on our information and support services this month. We’ll be talking to people worried about symptoms they have, their family’s history of cancer, or their treatment and daily life if they’ve been diagnosed with cancer.

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK, with about 1 in 8 women expected to get it in their lifetime. If you’re concerned that you may have breast cancer or be at risk of developing breast cancer, Macmillan has a number of resources that can help.

Symptoms

Take a look at the breast cancer information on our website. This gives a complete overview of breast cancer, including symptoms and common risk factors.

Symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • a lump in the breast
  • a change in the size or shape of the breast
  • dimpling of the skin or thickening in the breast tissue
  • a nipple that’s turned in (inverted)
  • a rash (like eczema) on the nipple
  • discharge from the nipple
  • swelling or a lump in the armpit.


If you have any of these symptoms, get them checked by your GP.

Family history

Many people worry about breast cancer because of their family history – if your aunt, sister or mum has had breast cancer, you may be concerned about your own risk, or worry that you have a breast cancer gene. Very few breast cancers are linked to a known breast cancer gene, like the one Angelina Jolie carries. And fewer than 1 in 10 breast cancers (5– 10%) are associated with a strong family history of cancer.

If you’re worried about your risk because a family member has had breast cancer, check out OPERA. OPERA is an interactive online tool that can assess your risk of hereditary breast or ovarian cancer. It’s asks you about 10 questions before providing a personalised risk assessment plus links to further sources of information and support. 

                                        Button to use OPERA

For more information, read our information about cancer genetics and breast cancer.

Living with breast cancer

Our website also has lots of information on the various treatments for breast cancer as well as advice on living with breast cancer, including information on how it may affect your sex life and fertility.

If you’re struggling with side effects some times after treatment, you may want to read our information about late effects of breast cancer treatment.

We also have several videos that may be of interest. They tell individual stories of breast cancer. See our breast cancer playlist on YouTube.

Men and breast cancer

Women aren’t the only ones who get breast cancer; it can also happen to men. In fact, about 350 men in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. We have information specifically about breast cancer in men on our website.

Publications

If you prefer to read information in print rather than online, all the information above is available in our publications. See our range of breast cancer publications, which you can order for free.

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