Reasons to be positive in breast cancer awareness month
With Breast Cancer Care’s annual Breast Cancer Awareness month taking place across October, Ritchie Chalmers, consultant at Nuffield Health Tunbridge Wells Hospital, says the outlook has never been so positive for women – and men – diagnosed with breast cancer.
‘A diagnosis of breast cancer is never going to be easy, but the outlook for patients continues to get better all the time,’ says Mrs Ritchie, who specialises in breast surgery and oncoplastic surgery at the Kingswood Road hospital. ‘Survival rates are now 95%, which means the vast majority of patients that I see can look forward to a long and healthy life as a cancer survivor.’
‘In fact, most people diagnosed in their 40s or 50s can expect to live another 30, 40 or even 50 years as a cancer survivor, so my biggest challenge is not beating the cancer, but making sure they have a body that enables them to look forward to their future with confidence.’
‘Again, the surgical techniques for reconstruction are improving all the time, so this is another great positive for breast cancer patients: the days of extensive scarring and prosthetic bras are over. Even when I have to perform double mastectomies, I can normally create natural looking breasts for my patients with minimal scarring. What I love more than anything is when my patients come to see my patients with tan marks, because this means they feel good enough about their post-treatment body to get into a bikini.’
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK; around 55,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with it each year, about 350 of whom are men. The biggest risk factors for developing breast cancer are age, being female and having a significant family history of the disease.
Early diagnosis is still a significant factor in the success of breast cancer treatment, so it is important for both men and women to check themselves regularly for lumps and any other changes. You should also check your armpits and up to your collarbone. You can find more details on breastcancercare.org.uk
Nuffield Health, Tunbridge Wells Hospital. Telephone: 01892 552932, email@example.com