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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Thursday, 1 October 2009

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month - and today we have Eileen Dunne who is the Ambassador for Breast Cancer Awareness month and Mairead Lyons who is Head of Services at The Irish Cancer Society.

Who is the guest?

Eileen Dunne is a senior Newscaster with RTÉ. She joined the organisation in 1980 as a radio continuity announcer and moved to the Newsroom in 1984.

A native of Dublin, Eileen has an Arts degree from UCD and spent a year living in France following the completion of her degree. A daughter of the late Mick Dunne (RTÉ's Gaelic Games correspondent), she has a keen interest in sport, although usually as a spectator! She is married to the actor Macdara O'Fátharta (Ros na Rún) and they have one son, Cormac, who is 12.

Eileen currently presents RTÉ's Nine o'clock news programme and is Chair of the Irish section of the Association of European Journalists.

Breast Awareness

Did you know?

. 2,479 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in Ireland in 2007
. 2,463 of these cases were in females and 16 cases in males
. Women have a 1 in 10 chance of developing breast cancer during the course of their lifetime
. 78% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed in women over 50 years of age
. The incidence of breast cancer is predicted to increase by 50% by 2020
. Early diagnosis is a key to surviving breast cancer. (76% survival rate but 90% when detected if you are young and it's detected early).

Becoming breast aware
It is important that every woman is breast aware. This means knowing what is normal for you so that if any unusual change occurs, you will recognise it. The sooner you notice a change the better, because if cancer is found early, treatment is more likely to be successful. Get into the habit of looking at and feeling your breasts from time to time.

What changes should I be aware of?

. A change in size or shape - it may be that one breast has become larger
. Changes in the nipple - in direction or shape, pulled in or flattened nipple
. Changes on or around the nipple - rash, flaky or crusted skin
. Changes in the skin - dimpling, puckering or redness
. 'Orange Peel' appearance of the skin caused by unusually enlarged pores
. Swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone
. A lump, any size, or thickening in your breast
. Constant pain in one part of your breast or armpit

Look for changes
One way of looking is by using a mirror so that you can see the breasts from different angles.

Feel for changes
An easy way of feeling your breast is with a soapy hand in the bath or shower. Some women prefer to feel for changes while lying down.

The 5 point breast awareness code

1 Know what is normal for you
2 Know what changes to look for
3 Look and feel
4 Discuss any changes with your GP without delay
5 Attend for routine breast screening if you are aged between 50 and 64

Know what is normal for you
Your breasts will go through many normal changes during your life. For example, they are affected by changes in your hormones during the following times:

The menstrual cycle
Each month, when you are having periods, your breasts often change. They can become bigger, tender and lumpy usually before a period starts and return to normal once the period is over. Some women, however, may have tender, lumpy breasts throughout their cycle.

Pregnancy & breast-feeding
The changes that occur during your menstrual cycle continue during pregnancy. While breast-feeding, your breasts may be very enlarged, firm and tender; this is normal at this time. However, you should continue to check your breasts and discuss any unusual changes with your GP.

The menopause
After the menopause your breasts will feel softer and they may get bigger or smaller. If there is a change in only one breast, you should discuss this with your doctor. HRT (hormone replacement therapy) may cause your breasts to feel firmer and quite tender.

What to do if you find something
If you do notice any change in your breasts, see your GP as soon as possible. Remember that most breast changes are not cancer and are harmless. When your GP examines your breasts she or he may be able to reassure you that there is nothing to worry about. If the change could be connected with your hormones, your GP may ask you to come back at a different stage in your menstrual cycle. Alternatively, you may be sent to a breast clinic for a more detailed examination.

Don't worry that you may be making an unnecessary fuss and remember that nine out of ten breast lumps are harmless

Reach to Recovery. someone who's been there
Many people who have had breast cancer find it helps to talk to someone who understands what you are going through. All of Reach to Recovery volunteers have personal experience of breast cancer and are trained to offer emotional support and practical advice, face to face or by telephone. They do their best to put people in touch with someone who lives nearby and has been through a similar experience. To be put in touch with a Reach to Recovery volunteer, call the National Breast Cancer Helpline on 1800 30 90 40.

Counselling service
Coping with a cancer diagnosis can be devastating, and many people feel they cannot talk to a close friend or relative. The Irish Cancer Society provides a free professional counselling service in a safe and confidential environment. The service is available to patients at all stages of their cancer journey, and can also be used by families and partners. For more information call the National Breast Cancer Helpline on 1800 30 90 40.

Younger women's programme
The Younger Women's Programme is for women under the age of 45 with a breast cancer diagnosis. The issues faced by a younger woman are fundamentally different, and she often has greater life challenges to face. The services for younger women include

. a specialist nurse to meet the information and support needs of younger women
. an information booklet, You are not alone, dedicated specifically to the needs of younger women
. in association with Reach to Recovery, the careful selection and training of volunteers to provide emotional and practical support for younger women who have been recently diagnosed
. national and regional conferences for younger women with breast cancer

Girls Night In
Are you foodies or fashionistas? Into salsa or the book club or rom-coms? Or would you just love a good gossip with the girls? Then why not get your friends round for a great Girls Night In and donate the money your group would have spent on a typical girl's night out to the Irish Cancer Society!

'Girls Night In' campaign in aid
of information and support services for women with breast, cervical and ovarian cancer.

Please see for information on all their services.

Eileen Dunne Interview

How did you get involved in the breast cancer awareness campaign?
The Cancer society asked me be a part of it and I was only glad to help. I'm at that age where I need to be looking out for it myself.

Before the campaign did you check your breasts regularly?
Yes, I have always checked my breasts for abnormalities.

What did you learn from being the face of the campaign?

Do you know of anyone who has suffered from Breast Cancer?
Yes I have had a few friends over the years who have suffered from it. One friend at present is going through it. It's just the havoc that it reeks it's not even the disease itself.

Ever had a scare yourself?
No, thank god.

What advice would you give to women?
To be more vigilant and any type of a campaign that makes people stop and think is brilliant.

Action Breast Cancer Free phone Helpline 1800 30 90 40.