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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: the importance of being Breast Aware and Early Detection

05 October 2017

Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in females in the UK with one in eight women receiving the diagnosis of breast cancer at some point during in their lifetime. Half of these cases will be in females over the age of 65 years.

The good news is that the chances of surviving breast cancer are improving, with more than 80% of people surviving the disease beyond five years and 75% of people surviving beyond 10 years.

Breast cancer does not always present with a lump and it is important to have a good understanding of other possible features. Not all breast lumps are malignant, however all new lumps do warrant a doctor’s opinion.

Know your breasts

As part of your own breast awareness and surveillance, you should know what is normal for you and by understanding more about your own breasts this will help alleviate any worries you have and also enable you to have early detection of any changes.

 Self – Examination

All women should check themselves on a regular basis; either day five of the menstrual cycle (with day one being the first day of the bleed) or if there is no bleed on a regular day of each calendar month.

Initially the examination involves undressing the top half of the body and standing in front of a mirror under a bright light. You should place the hand behind the head and move the elbows forwards and backwards. This allows you to look for dimples, tethering changes in the skin and any new nipple inversion.

The breasts should then be touched between the two hands feeling for irregularities such as unusual swelling, lumps, redness, soreness irregularities or rashes.  This stage is often easier in the shower with the lubrication of shower gel.

It is important to feel for lumps under the armpits. This check can be repeated lying down. If you notice any of these signs you should contact your GP.

Men need to also be made aware that breast cancer can affect them and they should regularly check themselves for the same symptoms.


Early Diagnosis

Lead GP at HCA Healthcare UK’s The Wilmslow Hospital, Dr Sally Harris, over the years has helped many patients who have found an irregularity in their breasts. Dr Harris said: “If a lump or symptom is caused by breast cancer, the earlier you have treatment, the more effective it will be. Therefore it is vital that women, and even men although much rarer, become more self-aware and get to know their own breasts and breast tissue. Discuss any changes from the norm, however small they may be, with a doctor. This could be lifesaving.”


Rapid Access to Private GPs at HCA Healthcare UK at The Wilmslow Hospital

If you are concerned about your breasts, or any other health issue, and want fast access to General Practitioners, like Dr Harris, without the long waits and inconvenient times the extended private appointments at HCA The Wilmslow Hospital are flexible.

Dr Harris added: “As my practice is based within a hospital, I’m able to offer on-site same day access to further diagnostics such as scans i.e. ultrasound and mammograms and blood tests should a patient require them. Plus, should someone need an immediate referral to a specialist like a breast consultant, I can arrange this too.”

Mr Richard Johnson, Consultant Reconstructive, Cosmetic and Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon at HCA Healthcare UK’s The Wilmslow Hospital concluded: “A key benefit of having an in-house private GP service at The Wilmslow Hospital, is that if a patient is found to have an irregularity they can be fast-tracked to see to a specialist breast consultant, like myself, and have all the necessary imaging and tests performed quickly in one convenient location, which helps to alleviate some stress at what can be a very worrying time for a patient and their family.”  

Private GP appointments start at £75 for 15 minutes, and if a patient requires additional hospital diagnostics such as imaging or a referral to a specialist consultant, they can either self pay or use their private medical insurance if they have cover.

For more information about the Private GP Service at HCA Healthcare UK’s The Wilmslow Hospital or to book an appointment, please call 0333 005 0565.

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