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Breast Cancer


What are the symptoms of Breast Cancer?

Most women would notice a lump at first instance or a thickened area on the breast, most breast lumps are benign but always good to check with your GP

There are symptoms and signs to look out for. You should see your GP ASAP if you notice any of these

  • a lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast or the armpits that was not there before

  • a change in the size, shape, appearance, dimpling, redness of one or both breasts

Seeing a GP

The GP will examine you and will refer you onto a specialist breast cancer clinic if it needs further assessment

Further tests for breast cancer

If a diagnosis of breast cancer is confirmed, more tests will be needed to determine the stage and grade of the cancer, and the best method of treatment.

Stage and grade of breast cancer

Stages of breast cancer

Breast Cancer is classed according to how far it has spread and thus ones average survival rate

The tumour is

1 – less than 2cm without armpit lymph nodes involvement or anywhere else in the body

2 – 2 to 5cm with armpit lymph nodes involvement but there are no spread elsewhere.

3 – 2 to 5cm involving surround skin and armpit lymph nodes but no spread elsewhere in the body

4 – of any size and the cancer has spread to other parts of the body (metastasis)

TNM staging system

The TNM staging system may also be used to describe breast cancer, as it can provide accurate information about the diagnosis:

T – size of the tumour
N – Lymph node spread
M –spread to other parts of the body

Tests at a breast cancer clinic

The breast clinic will see patients for further investigations for suspected  breast cancer or cancers picked up on breast screening ie mammogram

Mammogram and breast ultrasound

Mammogram is an Xray of the breast and is generally for women above 35.

Ultrasound scan of breast and for younger women under 35 as they have denser breasts. Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of the inside of your breasts, showing any lumps or abnormalities and can check whether the lump is solid or liquid.

A biopsy is an invasive procedure where cells are taken from the breast to check if its cancerous or not.. These can be done on the lympth nodes in the armpit guided with ultrasound and under anaesthetic

Needle aspiration
Needle aspiration may be used to test a sample of your breast cells for cancer or drain a small fluid-filled lump (benign cyst).

Your doctor will use a small needle to extract a sample of cells, without removing any tissue.

What tests are available?


Scans and X-rays

Scans are used to check for spread via

CT scan ( for chest/abdominal spread)

Chest X-ray  (for chest spread)

Liver ultrasound( for liver spread)

Bone scan( for bone spread) this requires an injection of radioisotope which is absorbed in blood

Tests to determine specific types of treatment

Some breast cancers are sensitive the hormones and grows if fed hormones  such as oestrogen and progesterone that naturally occur in the body. Hormone therapy involves lowering the  hormones and thus breast cancer size.  A sample of breast tissue can be used for

 a hormone receptor test, a sample of cancer cells will be taken from your breast and tested to see if they respond to either oestrogen or progesterone.

If the hormone is able to attach to the cancer cells using a hormone receptor, they're known as hormone-receptor positive.

While hormones can encourage the growth of some types of breast cancer, other types are stimulated by a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).

These types of cancers can be diagnosed using a HER2 test and are treated with medicine that blocks the effects of HER2. This is known as targeted therapy.

SENTIS™ - Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Panel

Although the genetic screen cannot tell you if you currently have breast cancer they are useful for screening for genes that make you more vulnerable for developing breast cancer

Women who inherit a mutation, or abnormal change, in any of these genes — from their mothers or their fathers — have a much higher-than-average risk of developing breast cancer and/or ovarian cancer

BRCA Mutation Risks

About 12% of women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime but women with BRCA  genetic mutations have a higher lifetime risk of the disease.


BRCA1- 55 – 65% of women with this gene mutation will develop breast cancer before age 70. This type of breast cancer can be more aggressive and difficult to treat.

Also 39%–44% of women will develop ovarian cancer by 80 years old

BRCA2-45% of women with a BRCA2 mutation will develop breast cancer by age 70.

Also 11%–17% will develop ovarian cancer by 70–80 years of age (2–4).

Women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation who overcome their breast cancer with treatment appear to have a higher-than-average chance of developing a second cancer.

However, it’s important to note that less than 10% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a BRCA mutation. 


How is screening done in the UK?

Breast cancer screening

The American College of Radiology recommends screening mammography for women every year, beginning at age 40.

Some European countries including France, Spain and Ireland offer to screen every 2 years from age 50.

The NHS provides free breast screening every three years for all women aged 50 and over. The rolling programme means not every woman receives an invitation as soon as she is 50. But she will receive her first invitation before her 53rd birthday

A mammogram is an x-ray of your breasts. X-rays use high energy rays to take pictures of the inside of your body.

Breast screening with a mammogram can help to find breast cancers early when they are too small to see or feel. 

The mammogram itself only takes a few minutes, but the appointment may last about 30 minutes. 

Before you go, you should have been sent some information about the risks and benefits of having a mammogram for breast screening. Talk to your local screening unit or GP if you haven’t received anything. 

In the hospital, the patient undergoes a screening procedure for a mammogram, which is per
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Why does Breast Cancer screening concern me?

  • Breast cancer is the 4th most common cause of cancer death in the UK

  • There are around 11,500 breast cancer deaths in the UK every year

  • About 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. There's a good chance of recovery if it's detected at an early stage

  • Its critical  that women should check their breasts regularly for changes with any changes  for examination by a GP.

  • Men can also have breast cancer but this is rare

Is there an alternative in the meantime?

SENTIS™ Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Panel

Germline mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have been associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.1
Approximately 25% of hereditary breast cancer cases are caused by BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations,2 and around 10% of all
breast cancers.3 Mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 account for around 15% of ovarian cancers overall.4 SENTIS™ is  CAP-certified
Sentis BRCA test, you can be assured that no pathogenic variant will be missed. SENTIS™ provides targeted and affordable BRCA1
and BRCA2 testing, and also offers an extended 21-gene panel that analyzes other relevant genes for mutations that could also
increase the risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, as recommended by medical guidelines.5
Knowledge of an increased genetic risk enables you to work with your patient to create a personalized plan designed to
prevent or detect cancer at an earlier and more treatable stage.