The Big Cs | Spotlight On: Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer

What Can We Do’s Spotlight series shines a light on the issues the UK is facing. Presented in bitesize, easily digestible facts to help you feel more informed and empowered to make change. These quick reads will direct you to specialist resources and groups for more information, and highlight ways you can get involved to make a difference.

Each week we will be looking at a different topic, kicking off with some key facts on our social media, followed by an article with direct links to ways you can do your bit.

This week we are taking a look at some of the facts around breast cancer and prostate cancer, in a month when the annual Walk The Night fundraiser would have been taking place.

Spotlight on Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer

Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer are the two most common cancers in the UK

Prostate cancer is overtaking breast cancer as the most commonly diagnosed cancer in England in January 2020.

Understanding the symptoms, risks, groups available to offer support and ways we can all play our part in furthering cancer research are key to ensuring progress is made to combat these life changing diseases.

Know the Signs and Symptoms

This is easier for breast cancer than prostate cancer, which can often be symptomless - but risk factors to be aware of include: being aged 50 or over, if your father or brother has had it, or you are Black.

One in four black men will get prostate cancer so visit Prostate Cancer UK for four things every black person with a prostate should know. Trans women are also at risk of prostate cancer, as well as non-binary people who were assigned male at birth, and some intersex people.

Understanding the side effects and how to cope with them can have a huge effect on the quality of life of someone with prostate cancer.

Breast cancer can occur in both women and men, and the earlier the cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of successful treatment. Some of the most common signs and symptoms include:

Lump or swelling in the breast or pec, upper chest or armpit

Change to the skin, such as puckering or dimpling

Change in the colour of the breast – the breast may look red or inflamed

Change to the nipple, for example it has become pulled in (inverted)

Rash or crusting around the nipple

Any unusual liquid (discharge) from either nipple

Changes in size or shape of the breast

Breast with manicured hands covering the nipples

Coppafeel! has a video to show you how to check your own body whatever your age or gender, and you can sign up for their regular reminders to make sure you never forget.

Understand the terms with Breast Cancer Now’s glossary and find out more about what happens at a breast cancer clinic on the NHS website and specific information about breast cancer in men.

Secondary breast cancer, also known as metastatic or stage four cancer, is an incurable disease caused when breast cancer cells spread to other parts of the body, and has its own signs and symptoms.

So how can you help?

1. Get involved!

With social distancing still in force, take matters into your own hands and run your own Paint Your Town Pink fundraising event in your community with Prevent Breast Cancer. They also have plenty of volunteering opportunities from bucket collections and bag packing, helping in the coffee shop, events marketing, gardening and admin.

Speaking of bucket collections, check out Prostate Cancer UK’s Match Day volunteering which gets you a free football ticket in return for a few hours’ volunteering, and buy some merch from their online shop to complete the look. Or - if conditions allow - consider running your own five-a-side football match to raise money for secondary breast cancer research.

If you’ve got some old bras hanging around, Against Breast Cancer’s bra recycling scheme raises funds for pioneering breast cancer research, and also supports small businesses in Africa by giving bras a new lease of life in countries such as Togo, Ghana and Kenya, where bras remain too expensive to produce locally.

Whilst many group fundraising events have been postponed in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, when they can safely return, charity challenges take place all across the world to raise funds and push people out of their comfort zones. Check out walks and treks, bike rides, runs, skydives and more from Prevent Breast Cancer, Walk The Walk, Maggie’s, Orchid Cancer, and Breast Cancer Now.

Oh, and don’t forget to purchase your charity bauballs in time for Christmas, right after you’ve grown your mo’ for Movember!

Women running for breast cancer

2. Make a donation

Cancer research could not be possible without donations and support from the public. With COVID-19 creating challenges in timeliness of cancer diagnoses, this has knock on effects on people's mental health as well as physical health. The holistic services these charities provide to support people living with cancer are needed more than ever.

£10 a month to Walk the Walk can pay for 25 cryotubes to freeze breast cancer cells so they can be used for future experiments.

A £10 donation could pay for the cost of a telephone conversation with a nurse on the Orchid Male Cancer Helpline.

£30 could run a small Macmillan information and support centre for 1 hour, helping people affected by cancer to find information and support.

A £5 donation to Cancer Research UK could kit out one of their groundbreaking research labs with the essential chemicals they need to help beat cancer sooner.

£10 can provide a mastectomy bra fitting with FACT.

Prostate Cancer UK could provide ten microscope slides for scientists researching the effects of new treatments with a £10 donation.

Make a £5 donation via text to Against Breast Cancer by texting PINK 5 to 70085 or donate online.

Donate to Secondary 1st to support them in their mission to find a cure for secondary breast cancer, which is currently incurable.

A £7 donation to Maggie’s could pay for someone’s first chat over the phone with a cancer support specialist

scientist researching in a lab

For more ways you can help visit our Donations page and our Actions page.

Have some more time to give? Find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and at our website for more inspiration.

Do you want to write a Spotlight blog or be our next guest blogger for our Voices of Change blog series? Then please get in touch.

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Each week we publish more ideas on how you can get involved. If you know of any initiatives in your community that you think we should promote get in touch.

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