Dr Brown talks to us about breast cancer awareness
Breast cancer is a cancer that can kill women (and a few men) but it also a cancer that presents itself usually at an early stage, and that gives Breast specialists a chance to cure it in many cases. If it is there, and women do not look for it, they will miss a wonderful opportunity to give themselves a great chance of a cure.
Dr Brown is a GP at Kingsbridge Private Hospital. Every month he will be talking to us and highlighting different health topics relevant to women, men and children in The 3fivetwo Blog.
In his first blog, Dr Brown talks to us about breast cancer which affects a large number of women in the UK and, in rarer instances, men.
Please find links to more information about breast cancer awareness month at the bottom of this page or if you would like to book an appointment with Dr Brown or another of the GPs at Kingsbridge Private Hospital - Click here.
To book an appointment with one of our Breast specialists or find out more about breast surgery please click here to read more.
Breast cancer awareness month is here and it is a time for women to become breast aware - by Dr Roger Brown
Breast cancer is a cancer that can kill women (and a few men) but it is also a cancer that presents itself usually at an early stage, and that gives Breast specialists a chance to cure it in many cases. If it is there, and women do not look for it, they will miss a wonderful opportunity to give themselves a great chance of a cure.
Breast cancer is very common, and in the UK, statistics show that around 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. It may be as high as 1 in 8 in some places. What is often forgotten is that the main risk factor for developing breast cancer is advancing age, and it is much more likely that a lady will develop breast cancer when over the age of 50 years. There are lifestyle factors which are clear and so it is important that ladies do not smoke, do not allow themselves to become obese, and do regular exercise. Also, please consider breast feeding your babies as this appears to confer protection again breast cancer. There are hormonal factors too, especially in relation to hormones taken by mouth like the oral contraceptive pill and Hormone replacement therapy, which both increase the chances of developing breast cancer….especially if the pill is taken after the age of 35 or of HRT is taken for more than 5 years.
One factor which is becoming much better understood is the genetic factor. This has had so much media coverage that it is often wrongly seen as the main risk factor. Research has shown that 1 in 20 women in the UK carry a faulty gene which gives them a much higher risk of breast cancer. These genes are inherited from both parents potentially, and so a lady with breast cancer because of a faulty gene will have a 50:50 chance of passing this faulty gene on to any of her daughters. More and more work is being done in this area of research and many more families are receiving genetic screening and counselling where it is known that a family member is carrying one of the faulty genes. Not everyone with one of these faulty genes will get breast cancer. The risk is simply higher.
Treatments include surgery which sometimes can conserve the breast, but other times will involve removal of a breast, or both breasts and possibly even the ovaries. Other treatments include the use of hormone treatments, mainly aimed at countering the effects of oestrogen, (one of the main female hormones), where a particular tumour is dependent on Oestrogen for its growth and development. If the cancerous growth has spread further an Oncologist will be involved in the care and will use other treatments like chemo and radiotherapy.
There is a national breast screening programme in the UK which uses Xrays to look for early signs of breast changes that might indicate a cancer beginning to form or having already formed. This will invite all ladies aged 50 to 70 years of age to come for this test. This test is called a Mammogram. Please consider going for this test if invited. By 2016, all ladies between 47 and 73 will be invited as the programme is being rolled out to these other age groups.
So that brings us back to Breast cancer awareness month. Armed with all of this information it is important to stress that without checking, many women will miss the signs of breast cancer. Checking the breasts regularly, perhaps on a monthly basis (but not around period time), is a way of finding abnormalities which may herald the development of breast cancer. A lump, some dimpling of the skin, a nipple which has turned in and has never been turned in before, a discharge or bleeding from the nipple, are all signs to be aware of. Not everyone will have all of these, but any one of these changes in the female breast could mean that a cancerous tumour is developing there and steps should be taken urgently to seek the help and advice of a GP who will examine and refer to a breast specialist for urgent assessment. Breast cancer treatment is now a priority, and no-one should wait very long for an initial assessment at a specialist breast clinic if required.
If a lady does not know how to examine her breasts, a GP or practice nurse will be able to do this for her and show her how to do it herself. It is potentially a life-saving process which only takes a minute or two. It is an opportunity not to be missed!
- Find out more about Dr Brown - Click here
- To book a Private GP appointment or find out about the Private GP service at Kingsbridge Private Hospital - Click here
- To book an appointment with one of our Breast specialists or find out more about breast surgery please click here to read more.
- To find out more about Breast Awareness Month on the Breast Cancer Care and events taking place please - Click here
Kingsbridge Private Hospital in Belfast is part of The 3fivetwo Group.
To find out more about the services and treatments available at our hospital and clinics – Click here
We have lots of updates on Breast Cancer Awareness month and current health affairs on the 3fivetwo Health Style facebook page. Follow this link for regular updates.