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The Boob Team often get lots of questions and although we are experts in all things boob checking, we are not medically trained. So if you have a question about our charity, approach or breast cancer, take a look below to see if we (or one of our friends) can help.
Updated 14th May 2020
What can I do to look after myself?
As we are all adapting to a new way of living, there are a few things we should be doing to look after ourselves and prevent the spread of COVID-19 to our friends, family and wider community:
– Stay at home as much as possible
-Work from home if you can
-Limit contact with other people
-Keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
-Wash your hands regularly
-Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.
This advice is for everyone to follow regardless of your age or whether you are considered more vulnerable. More details can be read here.
Where is the best place to look for current advice on the COVID-19 situation?
Use trusted sources such as www.gov.uk or www.NHS.uk – For global updates you can go to www.who.int – Please be mindful of misinformation and think about the source before sharing anything on social media. We would also recommend limiting the amount of time you watch or read the news to ensure you don’t over consume information that could affect your mental health.
What action has CoppaFeel! Taken in the current situation?
We value the health of everyone in our community and therefore, whilst measures are being taken to protect staff, we will also be extending this to volunteers. All volunteer programmes and events have been suspended until further notice. We will be reviewing our decisions weekly, as the situation develops. We have lots of resources that we will send you to use in place of a visit, and will hopefully be able to reschedule in the future. You can read more about the action we have taken and our response here.
Who are the vulnerable groups that need to take extra care?
The NHS has contacted those who are considered most vulnerable by post with more specific information on how to keep safe. If you feel you have received a letter by mistake or should have been contacted and haven’t, please get in touch with your medical team or GP to check your individual situation. Due to the short turn around, the NHS has warned some admin errors may have been made. People who need to take extra care include women who are pregnant, people over 70 and people with an underlying health condition.
The NHS has also identified people who fall into a higher clinical risk group, these include:
-People with cancer and are having chemotherapy.
-People with lung cancer and are having radical radiotherapy.
-People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment.
-People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer.
-People having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors.
-People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppressive drugs.
I have been diagnosed with breast cancer and am undergoing treatment, what is the best advice for me?
It is still important for you to have your treatment, but you should discuss with your healthcare team how you can take extra measures to protect yourself during this outbreak. For example, your doctor might want to do a consultation over the phone instead of in person. You should be practicing shielding if you are currently having chemotherapy. The NHS is prioritising appointments so you shouldn’t need to go out unnecessarily, but if you still need to attend appointments then try to plan your visit to minimise risk to yourself. Avoid busy transport. UK cancer charities have teamed up with the NHS to create advice specifically for cancer patients. You can find that advice here.
I have a breast cancer symptom and am not sure what to do?
Firstly, well done for being proactive and seeking out advice. If you are concerned about an unusual change in your boobs or pecs, the NHS still wants to see you as outlined in their #HELPUSHELPYOU campaign. Get in touch with your GP by phone, they are still there to help, assess, refer and give advice. Please be aware your initial consultation may take place over the phone instead of in person, but they will then give you the best advice on next steps to make sure you are checked out properly and put your mind at ease. You can get more reassurance from our Medical Advisory Group GP, DR Beth Lynch on why it is still important to get checked out on our website here.
I have breast cancer symptoms and am waiting for a breast clinic appointment but don’t know what will happen?
Some appointments may be affected due to the current situation. There are 2 possible reasons why your appointment may be pushed back, cancelled or converted to telephone consultation:
1) The risk of COVID19 is a greater risk to you and the staff by attending hospital, and the clinicians believe, after looking at your referral that you will come to no harm by waiting.
2) With staff redeployment into other areas, staff sickness and self-isolation there is reduced capacity and emergency patients take priority.
For more information on your appointment, contact your local breast clinic to find out what will be happening and how best to attend appointments that may still need to go ahead in person. The Association of Breast Surgery also has more information on their website here. Every hospital/clinic will have their own protocols set up to deal with appointments during this period and keep you safe.
What is happening with breast screening services?
Most screening services have been paused due to the pandemic. However the NHS is working towards getting them restarted in a safe way. Breast screening is still limited, meaning prioritisation is taking place. Women who were identified as high risk or had already been screened and were recalled are being prioritised. In most areas these appointments will still have gone ahead. In areas where some appointments were disrupted, they will be restarted from mid-May across all regions. Routine breast screening for all women aged 50-70 years will only be restarted when it can be carried out in a safe manner. More information will be released when available. In the meantime, it is even more important to make sure you are coppin’ a feel regularly.
Where can I find support?
There are lots of organisations who can offer advice and support if you feel you need it. We would recommend contacting the organisations below, depending on your concern:
The NHS Volunteers Responder Service is also there to support people self-isolating or considered vulnerable. They can offer help with shopping, getting medication or a friendly chat. You can find out more information and self refer here.
I have a question about my CoppaFeel! talk or event, how can I get in touch?
To get in touch with CoppaFeel!, please complete the correct enquiries form on our website and the most appropriate member of the team will be in touch. For Boobette events please email [email protected] directly.
Can I still help raise awareness and funds?
There are still lots of ways you can support our work raising awareness and funds. In the current climate, charities and communities need your support more than ever. We have come up with lots of ways you can still fundraise from the comfort of your own home. Take a look here. For more information on how you can raise awareness, visit our materials page here.
Why does CoppaFeel! target young people when they aren’t at high risk?
We are the first breast cancer charity in the UK to create awareness amongst young people, with the aim of instilling a new healthy habit that could one day save their life. Most information concerning breast cancer and cancer more generally is targeted at older men and women who may be at higher risk. We believe these conversations should be starting earlier, so younger people are equipped with the tools and the knowledge to be proactive about their own health and given the best chance of detecting cancer early, now and in the future. We want to set people on the right path and give them the information to make informed decisions early on about their health.
Why does CoppaFeel! promote regular boob checking, when evidence shows it does not mean you are more likely to detect cancer early?
Around half of female invasive breast cancer cases in England are diagnosed via the two-week wait referral route, where symptoms have been self-detected and reported*. This shows that it is important for women to be educated, as breast screening services only cover women (not men) from 50-70 years old in England. The action of self-checking is something that everyone can carry out, whatever gender or age you are. Even though there isn’t evidence to prove that the act of self-checking can reduce your risk or definitely improve your chances of detecting breast cancer early; it does help to improve your confidence that you know your body and are regularly in tune with any changes to your health. Forming a habit means you are more likely to maintain the action and remember to self-check, which could potentially save your life.
*Stat Cancer Research UK
How does CoppaFeel! ensure their information is accurate?
The CoppaFeel! team makes sure all information and advice is in line with NHS and Public Health England guidance. We also work with other UK based breast cancer charities to reduce confusion around breast awareness messaging to make certain our information is clear and accurate for our target audience. The CoppaFeel! Medical Advisory Group is also responsible for offering advice and support around our health communications. You can meet the current members below.
Why does CoppaFeel! just target women with their message?
Our message is for both men and women, as roughly 400 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK. We discuss this in our breast awareness sessions, as well as on our website, social media accounts and health information. Of course women are statistically more likely to be affected by breast cancer and therefore naturally some of our communication remains more female friendly in order to engage with women effectively.
Why does CoppaFeel! engage with primary care staff?
We know from our research that doctors and medical professionals are highly influential in prompting the first check for young women. Most young women are visiting their doctors for contraceptive appointments and cervical screening, so it is a natural point to also talk to them about their breast health. They also have an important role, as if you find a sign or symptom you must visit your doctor first in order to gain a referral to a breast clinic.
How can I reduce my risk of breast cancer?
Research shows that 23% of breast cancers are thought to be preventable through lifestyle choices.* This means there are some choices you can make to reduce your risk, such as not smoking, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and keeping alcohol consumption to the recommended limit. If you would like more detailed information about how to reduce your risk of not just breast cancer, but all cancers, then visit Cancer Research UK’s website.
*Stat Cancer Research UK
There is a lot of information out there about breast cancer and what can cause it – what do I believe?
Be smart and make sure you are looking at trusted sources, such as the NHS, Cancer Research UK, Breast Cancer Care and Public Health England. We understand there are lots of confusing messages out there but make sure you don’t believe everything you read and look for official guidance and updates on the sites mentioned above.
I don’t have a family history of breast cancer, am I still at risk?
Breast cancer can be caused by a genetic mutation, which can considerably increase your risk of having the disease. However, it is less than 10% of breast cancer cases where a link to family history is found. This means there is still a risk of getting breast cancer even if it isn’t in your family.
Why does CoppaFeel! say there is not a correct way to check when there is a routine called breast self examination?
Breast Self Examination or BSE used to be promoted in the UK and is still currently advised in the USA. However, the NHS now advises that people should be breast aware. This simply means, getting to know your boobs and checking regularly in order to get to know what normal feels like for you. We give guidance around the areas you should be checking, how often and what signs and symptoms to be aware of, however you can use whatever method is comfortable for you.
I have heard you should check your boobs lying down – is this true?
There have been stories in the media about cases where symptoms were detected lying down. This is one way you can check your boobs, but you don’t have to carry out your check this way. Your boobs will move depending on your position and whether you raise your arms when checking. Therefore standing up and lying down can make it easier to check all areas of the boobs more thoroughly.
Why does CoppaFeel! not use props and models to demonstrate a breast check?
We believe that it is important to get to know what feels normal for you. Nobody knows your body better than you and ultimately you will be doing the checking each month so we want to encourage you to be hands on, so to speak. Props and models can sometimes cause unnecessary anxiety if people are unable to find symptoms using the model. They can also lead to people believing there are certain characteristics of a breast cancer lump, which cannot be fully defined.
Our pals at Breast Cancer Care do what it says on the tin, they care about people going through breast cancer. They also have a great helpline, manned by train nurses to answer all your medical questions.
There’s a wealth of information on CRUK’s website about the facts and figures, new research and how you can reduce your risk. Go check it out.
There for anyone affected by this disease, providing more practical care and support.
Offering a bit of TLC for people going through treatment and after care. They also offer support for friends and family, who may need a cuppa and a chat.
Want more information about male cancer? Our friends at Orchid also visit schools giving guys the lowdown.
They know everything and anything there is to know about hereditary breast cancer and genetic tests.