‘What’s Up Doc’ is a health column in association with The Crawley Observer, which gives you the opportunity to ask questions regarding general health and wellbeing.
Answers are provided weekly from our specialist consultants at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital, Surrey. If it’s a long-standing illness or simply a worry which you would like to get off your mind then we would like to help.
This question appeared in The Crawley Observer on 10 October 2012, to readers across Surrey and Sussex. The question and answer is below, as it appeared in the newspaper and is answered by Mr Adrian Ball.
“Dear doc, I am 37 years old, I have found a lump in my breast and it’s worrying me. I've got a family history of breast cancer. How can I go about getting this checked? What tests would need to be done? If it is breast cancer what treatment would I need? There are many thoughts going on in my head as I have a family, I just don’t know what to do. Hope you can help, thanks.” Anonymous, Crawley.
First, don’t jump to conclusions, at your age; a lump is probably harmless, maybe a cyst, sorted out at a single visit. See your GP who will arrange an appointment at the breast clinic to see a specialist within 2 weeks. At the clinic you will be examined and have a mammogram, a ultrasound and a needle sample, often the same day. You may even get results the same day, though not always. In most cases of breast cancer treatment involves removing the lump and sampling glands in the armpit as a day case, followed by a few weeks of radiotherapy (soon available locally) and a course of hormone tablets.
Chemotherapy is sometimes recommended to stop the cancer coming back. Treatment nowadays is highly successful. Most family histories of breast cancer are not a cause for concern unless there are multiple cancers at a young age, gene testing and screening may then be appropriate”.