Breast cancer screening - what are the options available?

Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, affecting around 55,000 women every year1 – and around 1 in 8 women in their lifetime. The good news is that improved awareness is encouraging more women to self-examine and undertake regular screening.

Regular self-examination as well as routine screening can help you to get the right treatment as early as possible; Cancer Research UK estimates that screening saves around 1,300 lives a year in the UK2.

Noticing changes to your breast

Throughout your menstrual cycle and as you age your breasts will naturally change and lumps may appear. It’s important to remember that not all lumps or changes are a sign of cancer. Get to know what is ‘normal’ for you and if you’re worried about any changes, go to your doctor as soon as possible.

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • a change in the size or shape of your breast;
  • dimpled skin on your breasts;
  • a difference in how your nipple looks;
  • discharge or blood coming from your nipples;
  • a rash around your nipples;
  • a lump or swelling in your armpit;
  • painful breasts or armpits.

What are the screening options available?

If you’re worried about changes to your breast, you can make an appointment with one of our consultant breast surgeons. They might recommend that you have one of the following tests to check that a lump in your breast isn’t cancerous:

  • Mammogram – an x-ray of your breast that will show any cancerous cells, even at early stages and before any visible signs or symptoms are noticeable;
  • Ultrasound – this method uses sound waves to create a detailed picture of your breast if a mammogram detects a lump;
  • Biopsy – this is a small sample of cells or tissue taken from your breast, usually with a fine needle under local anaesthetic. Your consultant will send this to a laboratory where a pathologist will examine it to see if it is cancerous.

When should I consider screening for breast cancer?

Nurse
If you’re over 47 and you haven’t had a mammogram in the last year, you can book a mammogram or a breast scan with us. You don’t need to wait until you think something might be wrong. The breast screening clinics at BMI Healthcare are designed for women who would like to have a breast screening as a matter of precaution.

The NHS offers screening for women aged from 47-73 every three years, although some people may prefer to undergo screening more regularly. It is important to remember that breast cancer could develop in between your screening appointments, so if you notice any changes to your breasts you should tell your GP straight away.

At BMI Healthcare, we offer specialised breast screening at our breast clinics across the country. Our specialists are highly experienced, so you will get expert advice and excellent care, with your test results delivered within 48 hours.

For more information on any kind of cancer, visit our Cancer Care Hub. Designed to give you all the facts at your fingertips, here you’ll find a range of easy to read infographics, answers to common questions from our consultants and comprehensive information on screening, diagnostics and treatment options.

To book your consultation call us on 0800 015 2217.

Sources
https://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/information-support/have-i-got-breast-cancer/what-breast-cancer
Cancer Research UK, Mammograms in breast screening http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-help/type/breast-cancer/about/screening/mammograms-in-breast-screening

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