Check Yourself Regularly to Spot Breast Cancer Sooner

Posted on: 5 mins read
Last updated:
Kate Sweeney

Head of Clinical Negligence

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Every ten minutes a woman in the UK is given the devastating news that they have breast cancer. This makes breast cancer the most common cancer in the UK.. Thankfully however, if breast cancer is detected early enough, it is entirely treatable and many are able to make a full recovery from it.

This is why we urge women to check themselves regularly and to make sure that they know and are able to identify any indicators/ warning signs of breast cancer as early as possible. It was estimated in 2015 that around 25% of breast cancer cases were preventable with 55,920 new cases of breast cancer emerging every year on average between the years 2016 to 2018 in the UK.

Of course, the world has drastically changed since 2020, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic making it much more difficult to access face-to-face GP appointments. Unfortunately as a result of this, almost one million British women have already missed vital breast screenings.

We would strongly encourage you to make sure that you check your breasts on a regular basis. If after examining yourself you think that you can feel or see anything that seems new or unusual, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor should help you by assessing whether any of the changes you have identified are a cause for concern and should refer you for follow-up tests if they believe that there is a risk that you may have breast cancer.

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Breast Changes To Look Out For

  • A lump or swelling in your breast or armpit
  • Changes in the shape or size of your breast
  • Any changes in the skin
  • Your breast looking red or inflamed
  • Your nipple becoming inverted
  • Your nipple producing any unusual discharges
  • Rashes around the nipple
  • Crusting around the nipple

 

Can I See My GP in Person?

Yes, you can absolutely see your GP in person. Given a shortage of GPs and increase in request for face-to-fact appointments following covid, many GP surgeries have implemented a system to triage all calls for appointments to assess by telephone whether an in-person appointment is needed.  

When you see your doctor in person, they will  likely carry out a physical examination of your breasts and under your armpits. They may decide that whatever you have identified is  no cause for concern. Alternatively, they may ask to see you again for a follow-up check to monitor any further changes or they may refer you directly to a specialist breast clinic in your local area.

 

Early Diagnosis for Breast Cancer Is So Important

Breast cancer can be treated if it is identified early enough, which is why it’s so important to contact your doctor as soon as you spot anything different or unusual.

A delay in the diagnosis and commencement of treatment for breast cancer allows time for the cancer to spread to other parts of the body. This could mean that you end up requiring more extensive surgery, such as a mastectomy and/or  reconstructive surgery. It may be possible that you may require additional invasive treatment too, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy which may have otherwise been avoided.

Unfortunately, a delay in diagnosis of breast cancer and in receiving the correct treatment can also hugely affect your chances of survival and shorten your life expectancy. Sadly there were 11,499 deaths from breast cancer in the UK between the years 2016 to 2018.

Nobody should go through this, especially as sometimes the sequalae can be avoided. This is why national campaigns, such as CoppaFeel!, are advocating to increase awareness of breast cancer and how to check for anything different or unusual.

 

Compensation If My Doctor Has Missed Signs of Breast Cancer

GPs provide an invaluable service but sadly, mistakes do happen, with doctors often missing signs of breast cancer and failing to refer patients for further tests quickly enough.

Obviously, this can have terrible consequences and can affect a patient’s chances of recovery.

Our expert team of Medical Negligence Solicitors have seen these kind of mistakes and oversights on many occasions and understand the impact that this sadly causes for those affected and their families. However, we are glad to be in a position to be able help victims of clinical negligence obtain an apology, justice and/or compensation to help to rebuild their lives.

 

Delayed Surgery Resulted in Late Breast Cancer Diagnosis

A recent case concerned a woman who had been diagnosed with the BRAC2 gene. This unfortunately meant that she was more likely than most people to develop breast cancer at some point in her life.

Following the discovery of this gene, the lady decided to have an elective mastectomy which she was told that would go ahead that summer. However, she never received a date for the elective surgery and sadly later on that same year, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Independent medical evidence confirmed that although the cancer would have likely been present when the surgery was meant to happen (during summer) the tumour would have been much smaller. As a result of the delay, she had to undergo a much more intense course of treatment by way of  chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which she would have avoided if she had undergone the elective surgery at an earlier date.

At first, the hospital averred that the delay in diagnosis did not affect her treatment or prognosis. However, our expert team of Medical Negligence Solicitors managed to agree a settlement of £500,000 for her.

If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer later than you should have been or if you have not been referred for further checks, assessments and examinations quickly enough then our expert team of qualified Medical Negligence Solicitors may be able to help you to make a claim for compensation.

We fully appreciate and understand that no amount of money can make up for what you have been through, but it can help you to get the care, support and the rehabilitation that you need to start your recovery.

 

Should you need any additional support arising from reading this article, help can be found at the following resources:

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Kate Sweeney

Head of Clinical Negligence

Areas of Expertise:
Medical Negligence

Kate has extensive experience both in leadership and in the field of Personal Injury. She has 10 years of experience in Clinical Negligence where she handled a wide range of client files as well as managing and growing the team. For the last 16 years, Kate has worked in the area of Personal Injury, leading the team alongside managing a small caseload.

References

Breast Cancer Now. (2022). "Breast Cancer Facts and Statistics." [Online] Available at: https://breastcancernow.org/about-us/why-we-do-it/breast-cancer-facts-and-statistics/ (Accessed: 01/12/2023).

Cancer Research UK. (n.d.). "Breast Cancer Statistics." [Online] Available at: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/breast-cancer (Accessed: 01/12/2023).

Breast Cancer Genetics UK. (n.d.). Home." [Online] Available at: https://www.breastcancergenetics.co.uk/ (Accessed: 01/12/2023).

Cancer Research UK. (2023). "Resources and Books for Living with Breast Cancer." [Online] Available at: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/breast-cancer/living-with/resources-books (Accessed: 01/12/2023)

Breast Cancer Now. (n.d.). "Email Our Nurses." [Online] Available at: https://breastcancernow.org/information-support/support-you/email-our-nurses (Accessed: 01/12/2023).

Breast Cancer Now. (n.d.). "Call Our Helpline." [Online] Available at: https://breastcancernow.org/information-support/support-you/call-our-helpline (Accessed: 01/12/2023).

Macmillan Cancer Support. (2018). "Breast Cancer Information and Support." [Online] Available at: https://www.macmillan.org.uk/cancer-information-and-support/breast-cancer (Accessed: 01/12/2023).

CoppaFeel!. (n.d.). Home." [Online] Available at: https://coppafeel.org/ (Accessed: 01/12/2023).

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