Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 50, but younger women can also get breast cancer.
About 1 in 7 women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. There’s a good chance of recovery if it’s detected at an early stage.
For this reason, it’s vital that women check their breasts regularly for any changes and always have any changes examined by a GP.
In rare cases, men can also be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Breast cancer can have several symptoms, but the first noticeable symptom is usually a lump or area of thickened breast tissue. Most breast lumps are not cancerous, but it’s always best to have them checked by a doctor.
You should also see a GP if you notice any of these symptoms:
Breast pain is not usually a symptom of breast cancer. However, do look out for pain in your armpit or breast that’s there all or almost all the time.
The exact causes of breast cancer are not fully understood. However, there are certain factors known to increase the risk of breast cancer.
After examining your breasts, a GP may refer you to a specialist breast cancer clinic for further tests. This might include breast screening (mammography) or taking a small sample of breast tissue to be examined under a microscope (a biopsy).
There are several different types of breast cancer, which develop in different parts of the breast.
Breast cancer is often divided into either:
Other, less common types of breast cancer include:
Breast cancer can spread to other parts of the body, usually through the blood or the axillary lymph nodes. These are small lymphatic glands that filter bacteria and cells from the mammary gland.
If this happens, it’s known as secondary, or metastatic, breast cancer.
If cancer is detected at an early stage, it can be treated before it spreads to other parts of the body.
Breast cancer is treated using a combination of:
Surgery is usually the first type of treatment you’ll have, followed by chemotherapy or radiotherapy or, in some cases, hormone or targeted treatments. The type of surgery and the treatment you have afterward will depend on the type of breast cancer you have. Your doctor should discuss the best treatment plan with you. In a small proportion of women, breast cancer is discovered after it’s spread to other parts of the body (metastatic breast cancer).
Secondary cancer also called advanced or metastatic cancer, is not curable, so treatment aims to relieve symptoms.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer can affect daily life in many ways, depending on what stage it’s at and the treatment you will have.
How people cope with the diagnosis and treatment varies from person to person. There are several forms of support available if you need them.
Forms of support may include:
At Cavendish Homecare, we provide care for people in their own homes who are living with cancer. Living with cancer or following diagnosis can be an extremely challenging time in a person’s life and we are here for you, to help maintain the highest quality of life, to guide you and your loved ones on future care needs, answer questions on what may lie ahead and provide comfort and reassurance.