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Local NHS ‘Talking About Cancer Team’ supports Breast Cancer Awareness Month

The Talking About Cancer Team (TAC), part of County Durham & Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, is hosting a series of community events to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer during October in support of national Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The TAC Team works with local communities, workplaces and health professionals to raise awareness around signs and symptoms of cancer.  Early recognition of symptoms and a prompt visit to the GP is vitally important in early diagnosis and successful treatment of cancer.

Although the TAC Team works to raise awareness around various cancers, throughout the month of October the team will be focussing on breast cancer, in support of the national campaign, Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Kathryn Thompson, Health Improvement Practitioner, from the TAC said: "Every year in the UK just over 12,000 people die from breast cancer and there is over half a million women living in the UK today who have had a diagnosis of breast cancer. More people are being diagnosed with breast cancer - 50,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the UK alone - but survival rates are improving as a result of improved treatment and earlier detection".

Kathryn continued, "That's why raising awareness of the signs and symptoms and encouraging people to visit their GP as early as possible when they notice something they are not sure about is vitally important, it really can make a difference to their outcome."

The biggest risk factor for breast cancer after gender is age - 80% of breast cancer cases occur on in women over 50 years old. Other risk factors include alcohol consumption, poor diet and lack of exercise.

Breast cancer also affects men, but it is rare - around 300 men are diagnosed each year.

Kathryn added: "There are a number of proactive steps people should be taking. We recommend getting to know your body, what is 'normal for you'. Spotting any changes in your body is one of the best ways to make sure you spot any signs or symptoms early. It is important to check your breasts for any changes and visit your GP at the first sign of anything unusual for you."

Some of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • A lump of swelling in the breast or armpit
  • Bleeding or discharge from the nipple
  • Inflammation or redness
  • Any change in shape or size of the breast
  • A rash, dimpling or puckering of the skin
  • Pain or discomfort in the breast

There are ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer. The TAC recommends the following lifestyle habits:

  • Follow alcohol guidelines - the national recommendation is 15 units per week for women. One large glass of wine can contain 4.5 units
  • Eat a healthy diet - high fat foods and processed foods can increase the risk of cancer. Eat only a small amount of red meat and processed foods. Eat more fish, especially oily fish. Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day
  • Exercise - Aim to do half an hour of moderate exercise 5 times a week (this can be done in bite-size chunks) Moderate exercise is any exercise that makes your heart beat faster, makes you sweat makes you feel warmer and lasts longer than 10 minutes, so, swimming, dancing, jogging, cycling, walking briskly for the bus or housework!
  • Stopping smoking reduces the risk not only of breast cancer, but also lung cancer and oesophageal cancer. 

During the month of October, The Talking About Cancer Team will be out and about in the community raising awareness of signs and symptoms of breast cancer and offering support and advice. They will be at the following venues, which are free and open to everyone: 

Thursday 6th         10-2pm           Chester-le-Street Leisure Centre
Friday 7th               9.30-12pm      Belle Vue Leisure Centre, Consett
                                10-12.30         St Cuthberts Arcade, Chester-le-Street
                                10-2pm           Asda next to Wickes, Darlington
Saturday 8th          10-2pm           Asda Whinbush Way, Darlington
                                 10-12              Macmillan Coffee Morning East Stanley church
Monday 10th           10.30-12.30  Asda Whinbush Way, Darlington
                                  10.30-12          Lloyds Pharmacy, Brandon
Tuesday 11th         10.30-12.30       Morrisons, Morton car park, Darlington
                                    2.30-7pm        Mainsforth & district Community Association,      

                                    3pm- 4.30pm Barnard Castle Library
                                   10-12                Stanley Health Centre
Thursday 13th           10-12             Chester-le-Street Library
Friday 14th                 9-11             Craghead Village Hall
Monday 17th               10-11.30       Leadgate Pharmacy
Thursday 20th          10-11am       Bishop Auckland Library
Friday 21st                1.30-3.30         Sacriston Medical Centre
Saturday 22nd           10-1              Macmillan coffee Morning, Citzens House, Consett
Wednesday 26th      10-11.30     Leadgate Pharmacy
Thursday 27th         9.30-11am    Four Clocks Centre Bishop Auckland
Friday 28th              1-2.30pm       Bowburn Library
                                    2-4pm                  Consett Library

The TAC team work across County Durham & Darlington to raise awareness in the community all year round. If you would like further information or advice contact a member of the team on the details below:

Easington / Sedgefield / Darlington on 0191 5692830,
Derwentside / Chester-le-Street on 01207 523425,
Durham / Dales on 01388 742562
Cancer Information & Support Centre on 0191 5874500.

Published: 3 October 2011

'Care received was fantastic and I was very well looked after and very impressed.'

Patient, Day Surgery, Darlington Memorial Hospital