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Sarah Harding, 38, has revealed she is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.
In her post, the former Girls Aloud singer said: “Earlier this year I was diagnosed with breast cancer and a couple of weeks ago I received the devastating news that the cancer has advanced to other parts of my body.
“I’m currently undergoing weekly chemotherapy sessions and I am fighting as hard as I possibly can.”
She went on to thank the NHS, her family and friends and promised her followers she would keep them regularly updated.
According to Cancer Research UK, breast cancer survival has doubled over the past 40 years, with the survival rate now at 76%.
There are many things you can do, including regular checks, to give you the best chances of early diagnosis.
Symptoms of breast cancer
Breast cancer usually presents itself in more obvious ways. According to Coppafeel, symptoms include:
Changes in skin texture (including puckering and dimpling)
Swelling of the armpit and around the collarbone
Lumps and thickening around the breast
Constant or unusual pain in the breast or armpit
A sudden or unusual change in size or shape
Nipple inversion or nipples that change direction
A rash or crusting of the nipple or surrounding areas
Mammograms are offered to women aged 50 and older every year, and this helps to boost early detection. Women as young as 30 will also be offered the screening if they’re deemed higher risk.
For others, Coppafeel recommends checking your breasts should become a monthly habit.
“By checking on a regular basis, you will also build confidence of knowing what is normal for you each month. Everyone has to start somewhere, so don’t worry if you’re not feeling confident straight away.”
By checking monthly, you’ll also learn what is normal for you. It might be a good idea to check at different times each month so you can discover how your boobs change because of hormonal fluctuations.
How to check your breasts
The NHS recommends doing your monthly check in the bath or shower, using the soapy water to make the process a little easier to spot anything out of the ordinary.
Alternatively, you could look in the mirror and hold your arms up so you get a clear look at your armpits during your check.
Feeling your armpits should be a key part of your monthly check, too.
The NHS Breast Screening Programme has even produced a five-point plan, making it easier than ever to know what you’re looking out for.
The five simple points are:
Know what's normal for you
Look at your breasts and feel them
Know what changes to look for
Report any changes without delay
Attend routine screening if you're 50 or over
If your breasts change and you’re not sure of the cause, it’s important to book in an appointment with your GP as soon as possible. There are a number of reasons for lumps and changes to your breasts, aside from breast cancer, but it’s always worth getting it checked.