Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the UK. About 1 in 8 women has a risk of developing a breast cancer in her lifetime.
Some of the factors that raise this risk are:
– Other family members being affected
– Women on HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy)
– Post menopausal women
– Life style factors like smoking, obesity and alcohol intake
Routine and frequent self examination for any lumps in the breast is easy to do. In addition, women aged 50 – to 69 years are offered a ‘screening mammography’ as the risk of a breast cancer is high in this age group. Approximately a third of patients with breast cancer are picked up by screening programme – and not by feeling a lump.
A woman referred to a Breast surgeon with a lump would have what is called a ‘Triple’ assessment – clinical examination by a Specialist / Breast Surgeon; an ultrasonogram and, in some cases, a biopsy.
Not all breast cancers need removal of entire breast tissue. Depending on the lump and the breast size, more and more women are offered breast conserving operations followed, in some cases, with Radiotherapy and / or chemotherapy.
For those women needing a mastectomy, there are increasing options of breast reconstruction – both as an Immediate (at the same time as mastectomy) or as a Delayed (a few months later / after completion of any radiotherapy or chemotherapy) reconstruction.
The focus now is to increase the awareness; treat the cancer (with surgery / radiotherapy / chemotherapy) and offer means of reconstruction to enhance the woman’s body image and improve the quality of life after the treatment.
Mr Jeyaram Srinivasan
Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon
Preston / Blackburn