The pink ribbon is the most prominent symbol of breast cancer awareness, and in many countries the month of October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in women, and the second main cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer.
What causes breast cancer?
Breast cancer is thought to be caused by a combination of our genes, lifestyle choices and surrounding environment.
There are many things, or factors, that can increase or decrease the risk of developing breast cancer. One of the biggest risk factors is increasing age. At least four out of five breast cancers occur in women over 50.
In a small number of cases, breast cancer runs in the family. Most women with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease or the faulty genes linked to breast cancer.
You can lower your risk of developing breast cancer by making changes such as drinking less alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight and being regularly physically active.
How to be breast aware
Being breast aware simply means knowing what your breasts look and feel like normally, being on the lookout for any unusual changes and getting them checked out by your doctor.
No one knows your body better than you and everyone will have their own way of touching and looking for changes – there’s no special technique and you don’t need any training.
Research suggests that other factors such as smoking, being exposed to chemicals that can cause cancer, and changes in other hormones due to night shift working also may increase breast cancer risk.