Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK, but the chances of recovering are high, particularly when you get an early diagnosis.
Cancer Research UK has reported that women diagnosed early have a 98% chance of survival. This is why it’s really important to check your breasts on a regular basis and see a doctor straight away if you do spot anything unusual.
How to check your breasts
It’s best to check your breasts once a month. If you have periods, the best time to do this is a few days after your last period has ended.
Most breasts will feel a bit lumpy, and they won’t always look or feel the same – this is totally normal, so don’t worry!
When you check your breasts, start by just looking at them. Look at them with your arms by your side first, and then with your arms above your head.
Once you’ve done this, check your breasts by feel. Use the pads, rather than the very tips, of your three middle fingers. Make sure you examine both breasts in their entirety, all the way up to your collarbone, as well as under your armpits. Things to look out for are:
- Changes in shape, size or symmetry
- Puckering, dimples or ridges
- Sores or rashes
- One or both of your nipples suddenly being inverted instead of sticking out, or pointing in a different direction
- A new lump, swelling, thickening, or bumpy area
- Any discomfort or pain
An easy way to remember this is TLC – touch, look, check (see your GP if you’re worried).
For more information about how to check your breasts and what to look out for, watch this helpful video here.
Millions of people have missed routine screenings
In the UK, 1.5 million women have missed routine breast exams due to Covid. More than 500,000 women are also facing extremely long waits for gynaecology care – this has become an all too common story across the UK.
No matter where you are in your health journey; whether you’re looking to catch up on a routine check-up or have a diagnosed condition that needs treating, we can help.
Because of our independence, you can see one of our excellent doctors straight away.
Financial assurance in an uncertain world
We know going private can be daunting, especially when the costs of healthcare aren’t always clear, so we’re looking to change that.
We’ve listened and are developing guaranteed fixed price packages for our most common treatments, starting with women’s health. After initial consultation, if you need a common treatment, you’ll know exactly what this will cost.
If you’re considering self-funding, our range of fixed price packages will help you start your health journey with confidence; safe in the knowledge that your treatment will never cost more than you expected.
If you’d like more information, including how much a mammogram costs, check out our women’s health page.
So, what happens at a mammogram appointment?
Having a mammogram for the first time can be daunting, and knowing what to expect can help you feel less anxious.
When you arrive, we will ask you to take off your clothes from the waist up. It’s best not to use deodorant, antiperspirant, perfume, or body lotions on or near your breasts on the day, as these can interfere with your mammogram.
During your mammogram, each breast will be pressed between two plates. The technician may help you to position your breasts. When the plates squash your breasts, this can feel uncomfortable but shouldn’t hurt. If it does, or you’re concerned about anything, tell your technician. They are there to help!
Your mammogram appointment will take around 15 minutes and normally two scans are taken of each breast. If you have large breasts or implants, it may take longer as we might need to take some additional images.
How does a mammogram detect breast cancer?
A mammogram is a specialist x-ray machine that uses low-dose x-rays to take images of your breast. The images are then read by a radiologist who determines if anything needs to be investigated further. At St John & Elizabeth Hospital, each of our mammograms are read by two breast radiologists in line with national guidelines and we will send your results to the doctor that referred you within three days, but often we can do this sooner.
Sometimes we need more detail about an area we have seen on your mammogram before we can decide on a result. When this happens, we will ask you to come back to the hospital for an additional mammogram or ultrasound.
Although this can feel very alarming at the time, it’s very common and is normal procedure to help us produce the most accurate report possible. Around five in every 100 women will be asked to come in for a secondary scan. Four out of five of these women will be found to have a completely normal result.
Is it safe to have a mammogram with breast implants?
Having a mammogram with implants is safe, but it’s still a good idea to mention you have breast implants when you book your appointment. The pressure from the plates pressing together is rarely enough to rupture an implant. However, breast implants over 10 years old have higher rupture rates, so you should discuss this with the surgeon who performed your breast surgery.
If you would like advice about getting a mammogram, we can help. Get in touch and book an appointment at our private breast clinic. Call us on 020 3370 1041 or fill out an enquiry form, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.