Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
Diagnosis of breast cancer is very daunting and harrowing experience. If your tests show that you have breast cancer your surgeon will break the news to you in a professional compassionate and an unhurried manner. Many patients find it difficult to retain and understand all the information given at the consultation. Therefore, we have specialised breast cancer support nurses who will have a very close contact with you and go through things again in detail if you wish. Your surgeon will give you plenty of time to take in the news and to ask as many questions as you wish. There is no such thing as “silly” questions and you will be encouraged to ask about any detail no matter how trivial you may think it is. The door is always open for you to come and see your surgeon or nurse again if you have any queries.
Everyone one of us is different and we always thrive to discuss all treatment options with patients so they are closely involved in the process and feel that they are well informed and well supported.
The treatment of breast cancer is essentially to remove the cancer surgically by performing either a lumpectomy or in some cases a mastectomy. Breast cancer can sometimes spread to the lymph nodes (glands) in your axilla (armpit) and therefore all patients will require an assessment of these glands and if they are involved then those patients will need removal of these glands or what is called “axillary node clearance”. In the vast majority of cases, however, the glands are seemingly normal and the standard procedures to perform what is called sentinel node biopsy. Sentinel node is the first node in the lymphatic drainage of the breast and we can identify this node by two methods which are normally combined. The first method involves injecting a blue dye around the nipple during surgery which enables the surgeon to identify this node. The second method involves injecting a very small amount of radioactive tracer which the surgeon can detect during the operation using a special probe.
In cases where patients require a mastectomy we can offer immediate breast reconstruction for most patients. Options and various ways of breast reconstruction will be discussed with you in details including advantages and disadvantages of each method and we aim to tailor the breast reconstruction according to your needs and expectations. There is no such thing as one size fits all and we use the latest modern techniques of breast reconstruction using either your own tissue or breast implants.