With breast awareness month now here, we asked Mr Haresh Devalia, Consultant Breast Surgeon, and colleague of our Purity Bridge Plastic Surgeons, to answer some FAQs on breast cancer.
FROM WHAT AGE SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT BREAST CANCER?
Most breast cancers occur after the fourth decade (your 30s). However 5% of breast cancers can be hereditary (through a faulty gene mutation). These cancers tend to occur early. In Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells the youngest patient we have diagnosed is 24.
CAN TRAUMA TO THE BREAST CAUSE CANCER?
Trauma to the breast cannot cause breast cancer, however it can bring a lump to the attention of the patient, but subsequently the swelling could actually mask the presence of a small lump.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I EXAMINE MY BREASTS?
One should examine the breasts regularly on a monthly basis. The examination should involve not only feeling the breasts, but also looking at the breasts. One should look for signs of pulling of the nipple and pulling of the skin plus the presence of any armpit lump.
WHAT TIME OF THE MONTH IS THE BEST TO EXAMINE?
There is no set time to examine the breasts, but most ladies prefer to examine when their breasts are least swollen or sore. Usually the first day of their cycle or the last day is a good regular time to check.
WHICH LUMP SHOULD BE WORRYING, THE PAINFUL OR THE PAINLESS?
Any lump felt in the breast or armpit should be investigated, however most breast cancer lumps do not have associated pain and most painful lumps are associated with harmless cysts.
WHAT DO I DO WHEN I FIND A LUMP?
Any breast lump that is persistent requires thorough assessment and you should contact your GP immediately. If you are insured, then there are some insurance companies who allow direct self-referral to breast surgeons for investigation, without the need for a GP referral.
WHAT IF I HAVE DISCHARGE FROM MY NIPPLE?
Most bilateral clear discharge is hormonal in origin. However a one-sided discharge, spontaneous single duct discharge, discharge associated with a breast lump, persistent clear discharge or blood-stained discharge from one breast requires further investigation.
IS A SENSITIVE NIPPLE A CONCERN?
No a sensitive nipple is not a concern, however any associated skin changes such as breaking of the skin or crust formation around the nipple would require further investigation
AM I MORE LIKLEY TO GET CANCER FOLLOWING A BREAST IMPLANT?
No, implants are very safe. There is good evidence to suggest that breast implants do not cause breast cancer. Incidence of breast cancer in patients with breast implants is the same as the normal population. However there has been recent update associating textured implants with a very rare form of cancer of the lymphatics called Anaplastic Large Cell lymphoma. Fortunately this is extremely rare, and the evidence we have is that it is curable.
DOES SMOKING INCREASE THE LIKELIHOOD OF BREAST LUMPS?
No, smoking does not increase the likelihood of breast lumps.
DOES BREAST SIZE INCREASE OR DECREASE THE CHANCES OF CANCER / LUMPS?
No, your breast size has got no relation with increased chances of developing breast cancer or lumps.
HOW COMMON IS MALE BREAST CANCER?
Male cancer is rare and forms less than 1% of all breast cancers. Any man who finds a lump behind his nipple or in his chest needs to have it investigated, in the same way as a woman finding a lump.
We hope you have found this guide useful in answering any concerns you may have had. For more information, please get in touch.