Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK, with around 55,000 women and 400 men diagnosed with the condition every year.
Early diagnosis is vital, and Breast Cancer Awareness month, which takes place this October, is designed to spread knowledge and show support for those affected by this condition. Charity Breast Cancer Now’s ‘wear it pink’ day is one of the biggest fundraising events of the month, and this year takes place on Friday 20th October. Since it began 20 years ago, the event has raised £39m for life-saving breast cancer research and support.
The importance of regular checksTreatment for breast cancer is more likely to be successful if the disease is caught early. It’s therefore vital to check your breasts regularly, with Breast Cancer Now suggesting using the acronym TLC to remind you to:
T - Touch your breasts
L - Look for any changes
C - Check any changes with your GP
Fortunately, breast cancer survival rates have doubled in the past 40 years, with almost nine in 10 women (85%) surviving breast cancer for five years or more, thanks to improvements in treatment, early detection through screening and faster diagnosis.
Living a healthy lifestyle, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy diet, and drinking less alcohol can all help reduce the risk of breast cancer.
The financial impact of breast cancerBeing diagnosed with breast cancer can not only be emotionally devastating, but it can also have a significant impact on your finances if you need to stop work for treatment.
Many people choose to take out critical illness cover to protect themselves financially in case they are diagnosed with breast cancer or another serious illness, as it will pay out a lump sum upon diagnosis. This can provide valuable peace of mind that financial worries won’t be an issue should the worst happen.
Cancer claims account for around 71% of critical illness claims for women, with insurer Aviva’s latest claims report revealing that last year breast cancer made up nearly half of all cancer claims for women. Many insurers, including LV= and Scottish Widows, for example, will offer a payment as soon as you are diagnosed with breast cancer and will then offer a full payout if the disease progresses. This means you have financial support early on to help you manage your money whilst you come to terms with your diagnosis.
The support provided by critical illness cover in many cases isn’t only financial, and several insurers have links with charities such as Macmillan Cancer Support or Maggie’s who can provide practical and medical support to those diagnosed with cancer. Aviva, for example, uses Macmillan nurses to confirm diagnosis without waiting for consultant’s reports, so that it can speed up the claims process.
Some insurers also offer access to support services such as “Red Arc”. This service can provide you with a specialist nurse to help you emotionally and practically through your diagnosis and treatment, as well as being on hand to answer any medical queries or concerns you might have.
Other forms of protectionThere are various other types of protection which can provide a financial lifeline if you receive a cancer diagnosis. These include:
• Income Protection
Income protection is designed to pay you a regular income, usually equivalent to between 50% and 70% of your salary if you’re unable to work due to illness or injury. Whilst it may not be able to provide all the options of a cash lump sum, it can provide enough to cover all those regular expenses, allowing you to focus on getting better.
• Life Cover
Life cover will pay out a lump sum in the event of your death, thereby leaving loved ones with a financial cushion in place, so that they don’t have to worry about money at what’s likely to be a very distressing time.
You can find out more about how to protect yourself and your family should the worst happen here