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
any nipple discharge
Breast Cancer Survival Rates by Stage*
Most women (around 98%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.
Around 90 out of 100 women (around 90%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.
More than 70 out of 100 women (more than 70%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.
Around 25 out of 100 women (around 25%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. The cancer is not curable at this point, but may be controlled with treatment for some years.
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.
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
What tests are available?
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 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.
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
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.