Finding a lump in your breast may not mean you have cancer

02 November 2015

Finding a lump in your breast may not mean you have cancer - and if it does you will be treated very effectively.

That's according to Parto Forouhi, Consultant Breast Surgeon at Addenbrooke's and Spire Cambridge Lea Hospitals, who was speaking as Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close on Saturday.

Mr Forouhi said there are current techniques that are improving breast cancer outcomes including a new procedure at Spire for mastectomies.

"There is a new technique for mastectomies for patients when having reconstruction using a piece of equipment, a vessel sealing device," he said. 
"It improves the recovery and outcomes after a mastectomy. It makes the recovery quicker and also means patients have fewer problems, any surgery can have potential complications.

"In a study we published, we showed using this technique significantly reduced complications after this kind of surgery."

In 2011, just under 50,000 women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Eight out of 10 who get it are over 50, but younger women, and in rare cases, men, can also get breast cancer.But if it is treated early enough, breast cancer can be prevented from spreading to other parts of the body.In Cambridge there are 450 new breast cancer diagnoses each year but the city's five year survival rate is 88 per cent – five per cent better than the average for England.Mr Forouhi said he did not want women to be scared of lumps in their breast as not all turn out to be cancerous.

"I want to make it very clear there's a fine balance between awareness and peddling fear of breast cancer," he said. "We want people not to be afraid of this disease. We want them to be aware of their breasts but not to be afraid of any lumps they find. Most that find any lump, these turn out to be completely benign and harmless.

"They should seek advice when they see a difference in their breast but in the assurance most problems are benign and those that are not, can be treated very effectively."

Mr Forouhi said many breast cancer patients were treatable."Women in their 40s and 50s need to be particularly aware of their breasts but remember the vast majority diagnosed with breast cancer are cured and saved from the disease," he said. "In reality we can treat breast cancer."

The surgeon added being aware of signs and symptoms of breast cancer was essential, something that Breast Cancer Awareness Month focuses on."I think it's very important," he added."If the disease is found at an early stage it makes treatment much simpler for patients. For example, patients often require less surgery and may avoid chemotherapy."

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