Quiz: How breast cancer aware are you?

Woman in a white jumper with a pink ribbon

Breast Cancer Awareness month is a good opportunity to check your knowledge on risk reduction, signs and treatment. Take Dr Dawn Harper’s quick quiz to see what else you need to know.

1. You could have breast cancer if you have the following:

A A lump in the breast
B A change in the skin of the breast
C Discharge from the nipple
D A change in the shape or size of your breast

Answer All of the above.

Most women know that a lump in the breast could be a sign of cancer, and while nine out of 10 lumps seen in breast clinics turn out to be benign, a newly found lump should always be checked by your doctor. But it’s important to know the other signs to look out for. These include any change to the skin of the breast (especially if the skin looks tethered) or nipple discharge (especially if it is blood-stained or one-sided). Most breasts are asymmetrical, but if that asymmetry is changing it also needs to be investigated. That’s why I’m keen for women to get into the habit of looking at their breasts before feeling them.

2. The following factors increase your risk of developing breast cancer:

A Having close family members with breast cancer
B Being overweight or obese
C Getting older
D Being of Asian descent
E Drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week

Answer All of the above except D.

A large report showed that breast cancer is most common in Caucasian women and this is thought to be, at least in part, down to lifestyle choices.

3. Which of the following statements is true regarding the incidence of breast cancer in the UK?

A One in 12 women
B One in 10 women
C One in eight women
D One in six women

Answer C.

Around one in eight women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. This has changed over recent years. In fact, when I was at medical school, we were taught that the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer was one in 12. The apparent increase in incidence is thought to be largely because we’re living longer and many more women are now overweight or obese.

4. Possible treatments for breast cancer include:

A Removing the lump (lumpectomy)
B Removing the breast (mastectomy)
C Radiotherapy
D Chemotherapy

Answer All of the above.

The treatment of breast cancer can include any combination of these, depending on the particular cell type of the cancer, the size of the tumour and how far the cancer has spread. Each woman affected by the disease will have a treatment regime tailored to her and her cancer. Her team will involve her in the decision-making and give her all the information she needs to make the right choice for her.

5. True or false?

Breast cancer screening is only necessary between the ages of 50 and 70.

Answer False.

While screening, ideally, should happen every three years between the ages of 50 and 70, it’s a good idea for younger women who are at increased risk to be screened.

First published: Oct 2021

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