October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and we asked Miss Jasdeep Gahir, consultant breast oncoplastic surgeon at Spire Roding Hospital, to share with us more information about the early signs of the disease and how and when we should look for medical help.
"Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women in the UK. It accounts for at least 12,000 deaths* every year. In 2011 there were nearly 50,000 women* diagnosed with the disease. Breast cancer also affects men and nearly 400 men* are diagnosed with it each year.
"If the cancer is diagnosed early, then the survival statistics are excellent. Surgery is the main form of treatment for breast cancer but additional treatments such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy and endocrine therapy that will overall contribute to better survival statistics.
"As a breast oncoplastic surgeo,n my advice to all women is to regularly examine their breasts and armpits (axilla); 'Give the breasts some TLC and get to know them'.
- Firstly, touch them at different times of the menstrual cycle, feel for lumps that are persistent, hard, and that are getting larger.
- Secondly look in the mirror for any obvious signs of rashes, dimpling of the skin and position of the nipple. Also look at your bra, inner clothes for dark brown stains or blood.
"If there are any of the above symptoms, go and see your GP immediately to have them checked and then if further investigation is required you will be referred to a breast unit.
"Pain is a very common symptom but most women with pain will not have breast cancer. Pain is very rarely associated with breast cancer. These women will have another symptom like a lump or bloody nipple discharge.
"My advice for women with breast pain is to see their GP if it is still persistent after their monthly cycle or in the post menopausal women if it is associated with any other breast symptom like a lump or nipple discharge.
"For women aged above 47, you will be invited to attend the NHS Breast Screening Programme. This programme is to ensure women undergo three-yearly mammograms untill the age of 70 years. Thereafter the invite does stop but all women can still request it. The advantage of this hopefully is any cancer detected it is in the early stage and therefore giving the women an even greater chance of survival.
"At the Spire Roding Hospital, I am offering a breast service, which involves a consultation with same-day radiology, mammogram and USS. If a biopsy is required this is also performed at the same time and the results will be available within a few days.
"As an breast oncoplastic surgeon, my aim is to give women the best treatment both for cancer and non-cancerous lesions and at the same time ensuring that their inner and outer beauty is maintained.
*Source: National Statistics UK