October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Here we look at breast cancer, the causes, the symptoms and how stem cells are being used in the fight against the illness.

Each year in the UK approximately 55,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer.  Breast cancer is often associated with women as it is predominantly women who are diagnosed with the illness but breast cancer also occurs in men too with around 350 men being diagnosed each year [1].

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and while more people are being diagnosed but in contrast survival rates are increasing; this could be because of improved treatment and earlier detection[1].

Surprisingly, breast pain isn’t usually a symptom of breast cancer.  Symptoms of breast cancer include:

  •  a lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast
  •  a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  •  discharge from either of your nipples (which may be streaked with blood)
  •  a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
  •  dimpling on the skin of your breasts
  •  a rash on or around your nipple
  •  a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast[2]

Treatment of breast cancer can vary, breast cancer is treated on a case by case basis.  In cases where intensive chemotherapy is used, a stem cell transplant may be required to replace damaged bone marrow.


[1] https://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/news/media-centre/facts-statistics

[2] http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cancer-of-the-breast-female/Pages/Symptoms.aspx

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