JOY Cullimore knows only too well how important it is to be aware of the signs of breast cancer.
The 79-year-old noticed a lump on her right breast in December last year.
She made sure she went to have her mammogram, which spotted the cancer.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Joy wants to encourage men and women to check themselves regularly, and to attend breast screenings.
Joy, of Warren Avenue, Milton, said: ‘You never think it will happen to you.
‘When I was told, it went over my head and I didn’t quite take it in.
‘But once I realised, I knew I had to just carry on.’
The retired auxiliary nurse had a lumpectomy in February, and then a mastectomy in March.
She found support from her daughter Vanessa Denman, 41, who was diagnosed with womb cancer last year.
She has since had a hysterectomy.
Now Joy is urging people to check themselves regularly.
She said: ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, just check yourself regularly.
‘And if you get invited to a breast screening, then go.
‘It’s a great facility and doesn’t take long to do.’
Previously, Portsmouth had one of the worst rates in the UK for people having mammograms.
Women aged 50 to 70 are invited every three years to have a screening.
This has now been increased to include women aged from 47 to 73.
Between April 2011 and March 2012, 75.8 per cent of women in the Portsmouth area attended breast screenings.
This was higher than the regional average of 74.9 per cent, and the national average of 73 per cent – and an increase from 70.8 per cent in the previous year.
Constantinos Yiangou is a consultant breast surgeon at Queen Alexandra Hospital.
He said: ‘It’s important people are breast aware and check themselves.
‘The screening figures are getting better, but we need to keep trying.
‘Early detection means people can be treated sooner.
‘The earlier the treatment, the more successful it can be.
‘There is no doubt that early diagnosis saves lives.
‘If you find anything, or you are unsure, then see your GP. And please come along to breast screenings.’
CALL MADE TO LOOK OUT FOR EARLY SIGNS OF CANCER
EARLY detection of breast cancer can help treat the disease.
That’s the message from a leading breast consultant from Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham.
Constantinos Yiangou, consultant breast surgeon, said: ‘In the whole of 2012, 27,197 women were invited for a screening.
‘Of that, about 81 per cent – 22,172 – attended.
‘Of that, 820 women were invited for a second screening.
‘And from that, 216 were diagnosed with breast cancer.
‘About a quarter of those cancers were diagnosed at a very early stage, so after surgery and some radiotherapy, no chemotherapy was needed.’
People are encouraged to look for the following ﬁve signs:
· A lump, which may not be seen, but felt.
· Dimpling or puckering of skin.
· Change in appearance or direction of nipples.
· Nipple discharge.
· Crusting or rash around the breast.