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Do you know the early signs of breast cancer? Here's what to look for

The Independent logo The Independent 9/12/2018 Sarah Young
Getty © Getty Getty

After launching a campaign to educate women about breast cancer, cosmetics company Avon discovered that a worrying number of women don't know the early signs of breast cancer.

It revealed that less than half - 42 per cent – were confident that they knew what changes to look for in their breasts and that a quarter of women thought that a lump was the only sign.

The findings are from a survey of 19,000 women who, when asked to identify 10 common symptoms of breast cancer, just two per cent could.

In addition, the majority of women surveyed were unaware that their lifestyle choices could put them at greater risk.

Related: 50 Foods That Slash Your Cancer Risk (Eat This, Not That!)

Almost two thirds didn’t know that regular exercise could help protect against cancer, while 63 per cent were unaware that alcohol is linked to a higher risk of the disease.

“Early detection is crucial to fighting breast cancer, yet our survey found that women don't know their risks or what signs to look for,” said Sheri McCoy, chief executive of Avon.

”We want to change this lack of knowledge by using the power of our global network of women - six million Avon representatives and more than 26,000 associates - and our breast cancer partners, to educate women.“

Mammogram  © Getty Mammogram  Dr Paul Goss, chairman of the Avon Foundation scientific advisory board and Director of breast cancer research at Massachusetts General Hospital, added, ”These figures show just how much work still has to be done in raising awareness of breast cancer, particularly its signs, risks and how to act on concerns about it.”

So, what are the signs and symptoms that you should be looking for?

Women are advised to check their breasts each month - aside from a lump, other signs of breast cancer include a change in breast size or shape, a rash or skin sores, nipple discharge, skin indentation, constant pain or a change in skin texture. 

Similarly, swelling around the armpit or collarbone could be an indicator, as can a growing vein or inverted nipple.

If you notice any symptoms of breast cancer, the NHS advises that you see your GP as soon as possible. After examination, your GP will then refer you to a specialist breast cancer clinic if they feel your symptoms need further assessment.

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