[About breast cancer]
[I have an early stage breast cancer and no lump,
why have I been recommended a mastectomy by my surgeon?]
[Jan Dell - Breast Care Nurse Specialist] Sometimes the breast cancer cells can be
disseminated or scattered throughout the breast,
and in order to remove all the cancer adequately,
the surgeon will recommend a mastectomy as opposed to if there's a small solid lump,
which can be removed adequately just by removing the lump and a small amount of tissue.
[I have been told I have an early stage breast cancer or DCIS. What does this mean?]
DCIS stands for ductal carcinoma in situ.
This is when the breast cancer cells are all contained within the breast.ducts
and haven't spread outside to the surrounding tissue or to the lymph nodes.
There's usually no palpable lump, and this is often only diagnosed by mammogram.
The treatment for this kind of breast cancer is usually surgery,
sometimes followed by radiotherapy,
but it doesn't usually any further treatment like chemotherapy.
[If my breast cancer is invasive, does that mean it has spread to other parts of my body?]
An invasive cancer is where the breast cancer cells have invaded
the tissue outside of the breast ducts.
This can be a small area of tissue that hasn't spread to the lymph nodes at all,
or it can be a larger area of tissue where there is some spread to the lymph nodes.
But these details alone don't indicate that there's any spread to the rest of the body.
They just indicate the nature of the cancer within the breast and the underarm.
[Is my cancer likely to come back if I have a mastectomy rather than a lumpectomy?]
Research has shown that a wide local excision or a lumpectomy
plus removal of some of the lymph nodes and some radiotherapy treatment afterwards
is as effective as having a mastectomy in certain cancers.
[I have been taking HRT for a number of years, has this caused my breast cancer?]
Research has shown that ladies who take HRT for 10 years or more
may be at a increased risk of developing breast cancer,
but there's no evidence that there's a direct cause.
[I have been told I will be given a prosthesis after my mastectomy
to prevent me looking uneven. What does this mean?]
Immediately after your mastectomy, you'll be given some soft padding to put inside your bra,
and then at a later date the breast care nurses will get in touch with you and arrange
an appointment to have a more natural-looking prosthesis fitted.
These usually last for 3-4 years,
and when you need them replaced, you can contact your breast care nurses,
and they'll arrange that for you.
[I am not having chemotherapy, but I am to have radiotherapy.
Does this mean my hair will fall out?]
Radiotherapy to the breast or underarm doesn't cause your hair to fall out.
Hair loss in breast cancer treatment is usually due to certain drugs that are added
to a chemotherapy regimen.
[Why have I not been offered one of the hormone tablets I have heard about,
such as Tamoxifen or Arimidex?]
This is mostly likely because your breast cancer is what we call estrogen receptor negative,
which means that the breast cancer cells weren't choosing the estrogen in your body
to aid their growth, and so you wouldn't benefit from these tablets,
which inhibit this action.
[Why have I not been offered a reconstruction at the same time as my mastectomy?]
It's sometimes possible to do an immediate reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy,
particularly in a cancer that's very early stage and doesn't need chemotherapy
or radiotherapy treatment afterwards.
But if you have been recommended these treatments,
then many surgeons prefer to delay the reconstruction until after
the breast cancer treatments have been completed.
This reduces potential complications with the reconstruction.
[I have heard about lymphoedema and I am very worried about this.]
Following surgery to the breast and underarm and radiotherapy,
you can sometimes get some congestion of the lymphatic system,
which helps to drain excess fluid from the tissues.
This only affects about 25% of ladies,
and there are lots of things that you can do to help prevent this happening.
The Breast Cancer Haven have produced a DVD which explains
all the preventative measures that you can take.
[I completed all my treatments several weeks ago,
but now I feel very vulnerable and more fearful. Is this normal?]
It's not unusual at all to feel like this, and it's often when the body is healed physically
that all the emotional and psychology healing takes place.
Most people need just as much support with this as they do through the physical treatment.
If you're unable to get face-to-face support, you can access support via the internet
or by telephone through Breast Cancer Haven.
[For more information visit www.breastcancerhaven.org.uk]
[Streaming Well - Breast Cancer Haven - Copyright 2012]