Pink is the new black


1 in 7 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, an illness which takes the lives of 11,500 women and 85 men every year – nearly 1,000 deaths each month, or one every 45 minutes. As the leading cause of death in women under 50, breast cancer can be uncomfortable to think about. However, breast cancer survival has doubled in the past 40 years through improvements in treatment, detection and diagnosis, and today an estimated 600,000 people in the UK today have survived a breast cancer diagnosis, predicted to rise to 1.2 million in 2030. Early detection is crucial to this. As Cancer Research has outlined, “if we are to beat cancer, early detection and diagnosis is arguably the single most important and impactful objective we can have.” This is also the aim of DUCK’s Pink Week. 

Running from 27 February to 5 March, Pink Week is a week of events dedicated to raising money and awareness for breast cancer charities, including Breast Cancer Now, Children’s Cancer North and Hug in a Bag. Pink Week events range from a Charity Dinner to a Spin Class, combining fundraising with awareness: the class challenges each participant to cycle 23km during the session, representing the 23 new breast cancer carcinoma in situ cases in the UK each day. Each year there are over 8,000 in situ breast carcinoma cases, a non-invasive form of breast cancer which, if untreated, can develop into invasive breast cancer – avoidable through regular checks and awareness. As demonstrated by a YouGuv survey commissioned by Breast Cancer Now, only 39% of women in the UK check regularly for potential signs of breast cancer, an additional third of whom do not feel confident that they would notice a change. Given that when diagnosed at its earliest stage, 98% of individuals will survive breast cancer for five or more years, in contrast with 26% when the disease is diagnosed at its latest stage, the importance of regular, and informed checks is clear. 

Organisations like Pink Week have a drastic impact and help in the mission to end breast cancer altogether

Breast Cancer Now’, the UK’s leading breast cancer research charity, works to both support those diagnosed with breast cancer and to research its prevention – for which spreading awareness forms a significant component. The charity provides accessible information on the causes and symptoms of breast cancer, emphasising how to check and the changes to be aware of. As outlined on Breast Cancer Now’s website, being “breast aware” is crucial, for “the earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of successful treatment”, emphasising the importance that people do not hesitate to visit their GP if they notice any new or unusual changes. 

Important for this is an awareness of anything that’s new or different for you. Breast Cancer Now suggests that “checking your breasts is as easy as TLC”, as outlined on their website: 

1. Touch your breasts: can you feel anything new or unusual? 

2. Look for changes: does anything look different to you? 

3. Check any new or unusual changes with a GP. 

As Dr. Elisabeth Rosen, a women’s health specialist, advises, “knowing how your breasts should look and feel normally can help to alert you to any unusual changes that may be a symptom of breast cancer”. “Ideally, you should check your breasts once a month on the same day, a few days after your period”. Though women aged 50 to 71, or with a family history of breast cancer, are invited for breast screening every three years, regular checks allow the quick identification of any new symptoms. Pink Week in 2022 raised over £5000 in support of Breast Cancer Now and Hug in a Bag, hoped to be repeated in the upcoming week. Although it is the most common type of cancer in the UK, through spreading awareness and thereby encouraging early detection, organisations like Pink Week have a drastic impact and help in the mission to end breast cancer altogether.

Image Credit: Isobel Warwick

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