According to the recent Public Health England survey of 731 women, only 48% of women over 70 could name a symptom of breast cancer other than a lump. This is alarming, considering that each year:
- Over 50,000 women in England are diagnosed with breast cancer and 1 in 3 cases are women over 70
- Breast cancer claims around 9,500 lives in Britain every year, half of which are women over the age of 70.
Breast cancer warning signs you shouldn’t ignore
Breast cancer doesn’t always show as a lump. If you have any of the symptoms below, notice any unusual changes to your breasts or have any doubts, go and see your GP immediately:
- A lump or thickening in your breast or armpit
- Change to the skin of your breast (such as dimpling of the breast surface or orange skin texture)
- Changes in the shape or size of your breast
- Nipple changes or discharge
- Pain in your breast
Other, seemingly unrelated symptoms may include:
- Vaginal pain
- Unintentional weight loss
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit
- Visible veins on the breast
How is breast cancer diagnosed?
In the UK, women aged 50-69 are screened every three years using an X-ray test called a mammogram. Women over 70 are also entitled to a free screening every three years, however need to ask for an appointment with the NHS breast screening service.
If the results, which are usually within two weeks, show any abnormalities or are inconclusive, you may have to have more tests including breast examination, more mammograms, ultrasound scan, MRI scan or a biopsy.
When to get a second opinion on cancer?
Up to 15% of breast cancer cases are only discovered following a second opinion. Dr. Erica Endo, MD, PhD., one of the breast cancer experts from Diagnose.me, comments:
“Early detection of breast cancer has a 90% to 98% long-term survival rate and survival longevity is increasing. That’s why it’s crucial to be diagnosed correctly and as soon as possible. Because interpretation of mammograms may be tricky, asking an experienced radiologist to consult your case increases the probability of early detection and survival.“
The accuracy in detecting breast cancer is questionable with approximately 1 in 5 patients being diagnosed incorrectly when based on mammogram results. There are a number of reasons for this, for example the images may not be of good enough quality, could be interpreted differently, or it may be because radiologists, like all humans, make mistakes.
If you have been diagnosed with invasive, or non-invasive breast cancer, a second medical opinion by a qualified radiologist, specialising in breast imaging, will reduce the risks of being misdiagnosed or receiving incorrect or unnecessary treatment.
Get a Second Medical Opinion Online
You are entitled to get a second medical opinion from your GP, however if you feel a little “shy” get online and get a second medical opinion from the comfort and privacy of your own home.
At Diagnose.me, you can select your own world-class oncology or breast imaging specialist, who will review your case and medical images in as little as 1-4 days. They will also make recommendations about your treatment that you can take back to your GP to discuss a treatment plan.
A second opinion from the online Diagnose.me has helped 15% of patients to avoid unnecessary treatment so it is well worth it.
Sounds good, but how can I obtain a copy of my mammogram scan?
In the UK, the NHS Breast Screening Programme will keep your scans for at least eight years. Under the Data Protection Act 1998, you have the right to access your clinical records or any personal information held about you. To obtain a copy of your own medical records and radiology images you can:
- Ask your healthcare professional or GP directly
- Contact the Health Records Department of your NHS Trust but you may be charged. Radiology images cost up to a maximum of £10, whilst health records can cost up to a £50.
If you have any doubts or concerns about the results or advice you have received, or you simply want to double check for peace of mind this online service is most definitely the answer.