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The 'C' Word - come and join our Q&A on breast cancer, with Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer Care

(74 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 24-Sep-10 11:51:32

In October, we're launching a new awareness-raising campaign on Mumsnet, called The 'C' Word. No, not that 'C' word, norties - this is all about the three key cancers which primarily affect women: breast, ovarian, and cervical.

We're kicking it off with a Q&A about breast cancer, aided by the delightful folks at Breast Cancer Care and Breakthrough Breast Cancer. Between them, they can answer pretty much any breast cancer-related question you care to throw at them - from what to do if you've noticed changes in your breasts, through breast cancer in pregnancy, to what's happening at the cutting edge of research.

Breast cancer is still the second biggest cause of death from cancer amongst women in this country, and almost all of us will know someone who's been affected by it (look out for Carrie in You Magazine this Sunday, talking about the very sad and early death of her own ma). So now's your chance to get those niggling questions answered - whether they're about causes, family history, prevention or treatment.

Post your questions by the end of Wednesday please - the team will get the answers back to us as quickly as they possibly can, so do keep an eye out.

PS. Look out for Q&A's on ovarian cancer and cervical cancer, coming up a bit later in October.

Ewe Fri 24-Sep-10 11:56:29

Excellent idea.

My question is about checking breasts, I do try to remember to do it and have seen the literature telling you how to to do it etc. Part of me thinks, I guess I would notice if there was anything out of the ordinary, another part of me thinks there is no way I would notice unless it was VERY obvious.

How obvious would a lump in the breast be? They're so textured anyway I find it hard to tell if it's a normal lump that's always been there that is just part of me or if it's something unusual - I just can't remember from one month to the next.

Imbecileningles Fri 24-Sep-10 12:28:49

Kate, thanks for posting this, I agree a very good idea.

I'm also sorry to hear that Carrie lost her mother so young.

Ewe, I wonder if there is such a thing as a baseline mammogram, or similar - a bit like mole mapping for people at higher risk of skin cancer.

AbricotsSecs Fri 24-Sep-10 13:01:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Malificence Fri 24-Sep-10 13:11:27

I hope I can get an answer to my question as I have never got a straight one yet from any doctor.

That is, are women whose mothers had breast cancer whilst pregnant, more at risk or even less at risk?

My own mother was diagnosed with it shortly after my birth and died before I was one ( she was early 40's and had 6 other children) , this was 1966 so a long time ago in terms of diagnosis and treatment - it was said at the time that pregnancy had increased the aggressiveness of the cancer.

I've been told I don't need an early mammogram ( I'm 44) but would be interested to know whether it would actually be advisable.

RageAgainstTheTeen Fri 24-Sep-10 13:17:43

I'd like to ask a question in regards to breast cancer and the risks due to family history.

Both my aunts from paternal and maternal side have suffered with breast cancer.

My paternal aunt had a double mastectomy and is now in remission in her late 50's.
My maternal aunt has Inflammatory Breast cancer and sadly has terminal secondaries.She is in her late 30's.

Am I at a great risk of either type of breast cancer and should I be screened earlier than normal,I am in my 30's.

DinahRod Fri 24-Sep-10 13:37:40

My Qs are:

- are mammograms any more reliable than 20 yrs ago?

- can you be brca 1 & 2 tested without having surviving female relatives?

- I do not smoke, drink and I bf my children, but diet could be better - how significant are these factors?

- If you have a history of b/c in your family (mother had aggressive b/c at 45 pre menopause, both breasts, died aged 52; gt grandmother & my maternal aunt also had b/c but post menopause) is it possible/advisable to request a preventative subcutaneous (nipple sparing) mastectomy?

DinahRod Fri 24-Sep-10 13:42:06

Ought to add, have had my b/c genetic tree done 2 yrs ago and qualify for early mammograms starting at 40 - but given my mother had yrly mammograms in her 40s due to dense breasts/cysts it sadly did not prevent her dying from the disease.

i think its very hard for woman to do a breast exam, and wonder weather its would be a good idea to offer breast exams at GPs, nurses or when you go for smear ect?? I have only been offered once when i found a lump (was nothing) but still always wonder if im doing it right.

Ellybod Fri 24-Sep-10 15:03:20

With billions being spent globally on cancer research, do you have any thoughts on what is causing consistently high rates of breast (or any of the various) cancers? Heredity is a factor relating to vulnerability but what is going on to cause breast cancer?

banana87 Fri 24-Sep-10 15:32:14

My question is: Both grandmothers (maternal and paternal) had breast cancer, and my maternal aunt. Does this make me higher risk? And at what age should I start having mammograms given this potential pre-disposition?

MmeLindt Fri 24-Sep-10 16:31:41

For the past 18 years I have lived abroad, first in Germany and for the past 2 years in Switzerland.

This morning I had my third smear at my gynae here in Switzerland, as we are reminded on a yearly basis to go for a smear. At the same time, it is normal for the doc to check the patients breast and advise on the best way to check one's breasts.

It does make me feel a bit better knowing that if there are any changes then they will be picked up early, but is there evidence that Switzerland and Germany have lower cancer rates?

sockapoodle Fri 24-Sep-10 16:42:48

I have brca 1, DD not yet been tested. If she doesn't have the gene is her risk the same as every other woman? Or would she still be higher risk due to all the women (And men) in my family who have been affected?

Also what is the situation for genetic selection ivf (that is the wrong term I'm sure) regards the brca genes? Is it available on the NHS? has it become more popular?

pinkbasket Fri 24-Sep-10 17:15:50

My father's mother had breast cancer, had the breast removed and died 6 years later when cancer came back and was in several places. Am I at risk? Both Grandfathers died of lung cancer too.

PandaEis Fri 24-Sep-10 17:30:22

ok so my question is...

my mum and maternal GM and greatGM all had BC in their 30s and at the time me and my sister were told we would need yearly screening (mammagrams etc) starting 10 years before my mum was diagnosed (she was diagnosed at 38) i spoke to my GP at my last appointment and he said that despite my mum having agressive fast forming BC (lump appeared within 2 weeks and was stage 2 when biopsy takenshock that i wouldnt need to be referred for preventative screening due to my age. i am 28 so 10 years younger than my mum at diagnosis. is it still process for the preventative screening to be done or is it all based on post menopausal women and i would have to have a lump to be checked??


MIssAnneThrope Fri 24-Sep-10 20:49:16

This is great.

My mother died in her fifties of ovarian cancer, but as far as I know there isn't a family history of breast cancer. I know there is a connection between the two, but I'm not sure what it is.

How do I find out, on the NHS, whether my mother's ovarian cancer makes me more likely to develop breast cancer - GPs seem to fudge the answer every time.

My question is very similar to RageAgainstTheTeen's

my paternal aunt died recently due to breast cancer, and my paternal grandma and grandad both died of cancer (not breast)

Am I therefore at higher risk due to family history, or the same as anyone else?

10poundstogo Fri 24-Sep-10 22:57:30

My Mum and 2 aunts have had BC, one aunt then went on to develop ovarian cancer and died. My Mum has had gene testing and it said that nothing was found, but apparently they cannot rule it out, they just did not find it. Would it be worth getting my own risk checked? My Dad has also gone on to get kidney cancer so the pair of them have been in treatment, so its been on my mind a bit re what risk I may have inherited and then passed onto dc's.

Also is it true that I should steer clear of HRT when the time comes? I was on the pill for years before having DC's, will this increase the risk to me in the context of my family history?

strandedatsea Fri 24-Sep-10 23:30:23

Is there, or do dr's believe there may be, any link between (emotional) stress and breast cancer - or in fact, any cancer?

This is a great idea, whoever thought of it. Thanks.

C8 Sat 25-Sep-10 07:58:52

Yes. The risk increases the more people in your family have had breast cancer. mamograms are no done on someone as young as you beacause the breast tissue is more dense.
However you should consult your doctor now so that they can advise when they will start screening, you may have to go on a waiting list.They will go over how to check yourself properly and give more sound advice.
I'm a nurse and teach braest awareness, any questions fire away!

ladylush Sat 25-Sep-10 09:43:43

I agree that self-examination is difficult because breasts can be lumpy anyway - so it's hard to know what lumps were already there iyswim. Even if I was shown how to examine my breasts I still don't think I'd be able to do so competently. I'd like to see a facility whereby one can turn up and get checked - even if it's for a fee. That would put my mind at rest. Are mammograms still aimed at women 50+? My risks aren't particularly high - maternal grandmother died of bc post menopause, but I know of several women who have contracted it despite an absence of family history of ca.

notobvious Sat 25-Sep-10 15:33:40

I'm on HRT and it has transformed my life, I'm happier, livlier, have my libido back and my skin is great. Since I started taking it I've lost loads of weight, my blood pressure has gone down and I've lost all taste for alcohol. I really want to stay on it forever. It is easy enough to find the figures for the percentage increase in risk after being on HRT for a certain number o;f years. What I want to do is to do a balancing exercise to work out how much risk I'm saving by not drinking or being overweight and balancing that against the increasedrisk of the HRT - does anyone know where I can find the figures?

sandripples Sat 25-Sep-10 15:49:50


I got a breast cancer diagnosis last December and have since had 3 ops, full chemo for 7 motnhs and radiotherapy. My outlook is good but nothing is guaranteed.

Risk factors for developing BC as far as I have read include;

-early start to periods
-having first child over 30
-being overweight
-taking HRT

There could be others but these were relevant to me. On the other hand I breast fed first baby for 2 years and second for 6 months and I am active.

When I told my oncologist that I wished I'd never taken HRT, he said there was only a minimal possibility that this had caused my cancer.

I do think GPs should discuss all these factors with each woman while she is deciding on HRT. When I asked about HRT the GP did not discuss it much at all. HRT did help me too, as you describe, but I still now wish I'd tried to manage without it. We do all age and I now think sometimes we try to pretend we can carry on as we always were, but in fact we need to heed nature, and adapt our life-styles sometimes, rather than just soldier on as if we were still 30.

cupcaked Sat 25-Sep-10 17:25:05

I got a BC diagnosis 6 months ago having found the lump myself, and not through regular self examination, I just found it and knew it felt 'different'. I am a great believer in people knowing their own breasts best, and therefore being in a better position than any clinical service to know what feels different. Mammography is not foolproof either, I was screened about a year before I found the lump, and no abnormality noted, so it can be helpful but is no substitute. I know breasts feel lumpier late in a cycle but mine just felt like a different kind of lump, it was peasized and firmer than normal breast and I wasn't in a lumpy phase of cycle. Am v glad I didn't hang about before getting it investigated. It was v small but grade 3, ie the most aggressive type, and like Sandripples, I have had surgery followed by 6 cycles of chemotherapy and am now receiving radiotherapy. For what it's worth, I was 45 with no identifiable risk factors. One aunt died of breast cancer, but in her late 60s and that's not so relevant at that age. I have 3 children, BF them all for
prolonged periods and have always been thin.

So I am preaching breast awareness for all, no matter what your family history or number of risk factors. Like Sandripples, my outlook is good thanks to finding the lump when it was small, and also to excellent prompt treatment at my local NHS hospital in N Ireland. But as she says there are no guarantees, and if I had found it even a month later I don't think my prognosis would have been as good. Right, off you all go now and check 'em out. Recommend the bath cos they float

sandripples Sat 25-Sep-10 19:31:53

Perhaps I should add that my lump was found during a routine mammogram as I'm over 50. There was nothing to feel at all, even after I knew it was there! So don't skip your screening, anyone over 50!

NHS was also excellent here (Cheshire)

smee Sat 25-Sep-10 20:25:12

I'm the same as cupcaked, so no significant family history and found the lump myself. I'm just finishing chemotherapy. Completely agree with her about checking, as though it's been tough, I'm ridiculously pleased I found my lump. Being blunt here, but if I hadn't, I doubt I'd have still been alive by the time the routine screening checked me at fifty.

My question's in two parts. First is around risk awareness, as until I was diagnosed I thought having a child helped decrease my risk. However apparently anyone who has a child over 35 is now deemed to be at higher risk. (I was 37). So shouldn't we start some sort of campaign to raise awareness of this? So many of us are choosing to have children later in life and even if it only gives them a slightly increased risk, surely they should be aware of it.

Second question is the logical follow on: so should women in this slightly higher risk group be offered screening before they're 50? After all in lots of countries women are routinely screened from 40. I know there are arguments as to why this isn't always a good idea, but in my case it most definitely would have been.

My question is really minor: can you get breast cancer while you are breastfeeding. Your boobs are all lumpy when lactating so what exactly should I be looking for? confused

AbricotsSecs Sun 26-Sep-10 01:10:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Hoochie - well that's sort of reassuring. I was thinking perhaps there would be no symptoms at all until whammo, you wean and find a huge lump.

KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 26-Sep-10 12:43:27


Thanks for all your questions so far, and do keep them coming.

You can read Carrie's interview with You magazine about her mother's cancer here - it's sad, but very lovely.

lilyliz Sun 26-Sep-10 13:07:47

I know this wont be popular but why are women so obsessed with breast cancer considering you can have cancer any where in the body,My husband and six other members of his family (male and female )have died with pancreatic cancer which there is hardly any treatment.Millions of pounds have been put into breast cancer research to the detriment of research into others,I think its time other cancers got a shot at the loot.

sandripples Sun 26-Sep-10 14:46:09


I don't know the stats for other cancers, but the stats for for breast cancer are that 1 in 9 get it - which seems to me very high.

I agree that treatment for other cancers needs advancing but at least through work over the last 20 years women who get this very common cancer now have a much better outlook.

I am very sorry about your family members who've had pancreatic cancer. I am very worried that Europe offers better drugs for many cancers than the NHS does in the UK - especially I think for other cancers.

lilyliz Sun 26-Sep-10 15:31:36

Sandripples,it's not sour grapes or anything like it but I just think all people need considering not just women.Millions have been raised for breast cancer research and a lot of good has come from that in that it's not the automatic death sentence it once was but for many people cancer is a death sentence and that is not right,so come on women stop being so selfish and maybe donate some of your money to cancer research who will use it to help everyone.

Highlander Sun 26-Sep-10 16:59:18

How much of your campaign will be focused on the things that women can do to drastically reduce their risk of developing any cancer?

Never smoke
Keep your alcohol intake low
Maintain a healthy diet
Watch your summer sun exposure
Take 4 hours of impact exercise a week

southeastastra Sun 26-Sep-10 17:24:23

i read the article, reminded me so much of what happened to my mum too . very sad to read.

she never smoked or drank at all. i think it's so hard to pinpoint what caused it.

Sakura Mon 27-Sep-10 01:47:33

IN "Smile or Die" Barbara Ehrenreich, who had breast canceer herself, discusses how women are encouraged to think positively, have "happy thoughts" as though that will help them overcome cancer.

In reality, she found that a good immune system can speed up the spread of cancer, because white blood cells only attack alien cells. Cancer cells are not alien.

What she found was, that when women were concentrating on thinking positively, or making sure they got their mammograms, they weren't getting angry about all the environmental pollutants and carcinogens that actually cause cancer in the first place.

So my question is: how seriously does the government take the link between environmental pollutants and carcinogens and breast cancer?

BeckySharper Mon 27-Sep-10 04:14:55

How useful is it to see cancer as something that strikes randomly, out of the blue, with no known cause?

Wouldn't it be more useful to identify clearly the things which are proven to cause cancer - and the things which are suspected of causing cancer - and then to advise people how to change their lives so that their risk of cancer is minimised?

Shouldn't cancer funding be focussed mainly on preventing cancer, rather than mainly on trying to 'cure' it?

gramercy Mon 27-Sep-10 11:05:22

But what is scary is that is does indeed appear to be random, or one lacks the ability to deal with cancer cells, or has the propensity to succumb to it.

Many people in my family have died of cancer - and they were all as fit as fiddles. I can't say "Oh, my father smoked" or "My mother drank" or "My sister was obese". No, they were all slim, active, and ate healthy diets.

What does need to be researched is why breast cancer is increasing in "young" women (ie pre-menopausal). What have we been doing to ourselves in the last 30-40 years that previous generations didn't?

Highlander Mon 27-Sep-10 11:41:07

pre-menopausal cancers:

we're exposed to far more oestrogen than previous generations as we're having less children and breastfeeding less.

SparklingBy Mon 27-Sep-10 11:43:17

I have been diagnosed with brca1, having had breast cancer in one breast in 2000 and in the other in 2003. I would like to know what extra tests I am entitled to, other than the yearly check up, which includes a mammogram and breast examination.

BeckySharper Mon 27-Sep-10 11:43:28

What causes the lack of ability to deal with cancer cells? Apparently all of us create cancer cells in our bodies every day, and they are dealt with by our immune system. What causes a breakdown in that system?

What gives rise to a propensity to succumb to cancer?

lilyliz Mon 27-Sep-10 12:08:40

Beckysharp A lot of research at the moment itno the genetic makeup of tumours to crack the DNA code and find a way of switching them off.Researchers now reckon they will never find a cure but could offer a way to manage the illness so we could have a normal lifespan,it would entail lifelong treatment to stop the tumours in their tracks and maintain them at a non life threatening stage.

Highlander Mon 27-Sep-10 13:29:59

sparkling - if you've had chemo you should have an echo of your heart and regular check-ups with a cardiologist.

smee Mon 27-Sep-10 14:23:25

Highlander I'm no expert, but pre-menopausal cancers have other risk factors too. I was told on diagnosis that my cancer was more than likely triggered by having a child after 35, as I was strongly hormonal positive (both oestrogen and progesteron). In my case there's no family history, I've never smoked, am not over weight, have always exercised regularly and I breast fed too. My Consultant says he's seeing far more women like me these days. I'd love to at least raise awareness of it, as before finding a lump I thought I was pretty safe due to having had a child and having breast fed.

cupcaked Mon 27-Sep-10 14:38:51

I wonder about oestrogen-like hormones given to cattle, which was not done on such a widespread basis until about 40 yrs ago. Are we now getting more oestrogens through our diet? Is this also why breast cancer is not as common in Asian/Chinese women, whose diet doesn't use much dairy produce?

gramercy Mon 27-Sep-10 14:44:37

I have heard this too. There is no escaping the hugely-increased amount of oestrogen we are exposed to. It's not just in meat - it's in the water supply and therefore in vegetables too.

Studies of fish and other water creatures have shown that some have become hermaphrodites - possibly due to contraceptive pill getting into rivers.

Not really a question, but more of a thought.
Many people come on here and ask how they can help a friend or friends OH who is dx with cancer. It will be helpful to have a list of ideas on how to help, written by people who have been though it.
would that be ok?

Sakura Tue 28-Sep-10 02:35:23

Plastic mimics oestrogen as well. Hard plastic is now banned in Canada for chidren's toys and baby bottles. Research shows more baby girls are being born than ever before and it could be connected to the enormous oestrogen levels in the mother

cupcaked Tue 28-Sep-10 09:51:27

No, can't blame environmental oestrogen for gender of babies, that is determined at conception. (Anyway birth register for England and Wales consistently shows slightly higher birth rate for boys.)

Sakura Tue 28-Sep-10 10:59:17

Ah... was a documentary...

I guess that my having had ds later in life (at 38) and not being able to breastfeed him might have contributed to my bc - don't smoke,weight is fine,don't drink too much and have reasonably healthy diet.

Easywriter Tue 28-Sep-10 13:52:18

As a large breasted woman 36J I really worry about checking my breasts, especially after Embarrasing Bodies said a satistic that 7 out of 10 lumps will be missed by a woman checking her breasts.

I feel as if I would be able to check the higher areas of breast tissue (near my collarbone and under my arms) reasonably well. However with the tissue that one would conventionally think of as being a breast I think I would be very lucky to feel anything as there is so much tissue.

I am 42 this month and so nearing the screening age (which only increases the worry). Do you recommend any addition methods to check larger breasts and is there anywhere that will offer me screening without relieveing me of £200 into the bargain?

(I have spoken to my Doctor about this and whilst they are sympathetic they say there is no free/nearly free NHS screening available in Sheffield until you become 50).

Travellerintime Tue 28-Sep-10 14:20:10

What are the pros/cons of starting screening from age 40, as opposed to 50?

My mum had bc, and my grandmother too. Both got it post-menopause - my mum's outlook is very positive (early diagnosis) and my grandmother, well, altho' she's now dead, it wasn't bc that killed her. I've been told my risk is no higher than others, but I still worry and have wondered whether I should look into early screenings.

smee Wed 29-Sep-10 10:31:49

Travellerintime, my friend had screening from 40. Her Aunt died of BC, so they said she qualified. Maybe it's dependent on where you live? That's an interesting question too.

I think it's harder to check pre-menstral women as their breasts are denser, so harder for a mammogram to pick things up on. When I was diagnosed, younger women at the clinic seemed to only have ultrasounds, but those can pick up lots and lets face it there's no x-ray involved, so it's safer. I asked my GP about it and he says he thinks cost has an awful lot to do with it.

cupcaked Wed 29-Sep-10 11:31:05

Also screening is not foolproof either, and may even lull people into false sense of security so they don't bother self checking if getting mammogram. I speak from experience. I went for mammography at age 44 after a friend was diagnosed in early 40s. It was done through local cancer charity Action Cancer, a year before I found the lump by accident. I was not self checking regularly, have to say because I thought mammography would have picked anything nasty up. But clearly a lot can happen in a year. I say again, know your own..

itsonlyaphase Wed 29-Sep-10 13:22:47

As a topic close to me I felt compelled to add something. My sister was diagnosed at aged 46 in February and is one of the most healthiest people in the world, a fantastic diet, exercised regularly, never smoked, drank very little alcohol, breast fed both her children, one of them for 2 years, basically did everything that one should. So whilst you can take every step possible to arm yourself against cancer, nothing can ever give you a guarantee that it won't happen to you. Live every day to its fullest and keep vigilant about checking yourself and keeping up regular screening appointments.

MrsThisIsTheCadillacOfNailguns Wed 29-Sep-10 14:57:31

You can discount 'hormones given to cattle',this practice is banned in the UK and EU,however is allowed in the US and other countries.

DinahRod Wed 29-Sep-10 17:11:50

Ultrasound isn't offered routinely on NHS, or at least not in my area, for under 40s even if you have a history of b/c in the family - I asked about having it. Apparently ultrasound gives a lot of false alarms which is why they won't do it and you have to wait to 40 for mammograms instead, although I understand it is offered in other countries.

sandripples Wed 29-Sep-10 17:50:26


To start a response to your question, I think the main thing is to go and see the person, and offer help. Things which have helped me through the last year of treatment have been;

- visits for tea/coffee/ a chat
- people making soup and flapjack and just bringing it round (+ various other recipes)
-People giving me lifts to hospital for various appointments and treatments such as chemo or radiotherapy
- people coming out for a walk or a visit to a garden. I couldn't walk every day but frequent walks have been importnat and sometimes its nice to have company

Many dear friends have also brought gifts such as flowers and books and all have been very much appreciated. A neck cushion, and plants have also been very nice. Be careful about toiletries as patients cna't use them while on radiotherapy, but at the end of treatment - lovely! be acreful also about cood as some people go off a lot of things. (The soup etc were great but I was not put off many foods)

You need to be sensitive to what the individual wants of course. Some people don't want to discuss their situation very much, others prefer to be very open. And I didn't want visitors all the time, so you need to be able to accept that as well.

Thanks for asking this question. I have felt hugely well supported by my friends and family over the past year, and it helps a lot.

carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 29-Sep-10 22:42:49

Hope am not too late. I wanted to know who was eligible for BRAC gene screening and for whom would it be useful. My mum died of BC at 50 after being diagnosed at 48. My grandma was much older. About 15 years ago we were told we couldn't be tested, but could we now and would it be useful. If I found I had gene I would definitely take action.


cupcaked Wed 29-Sep-10 23:18:19

Sandripples has listed for me also exactly the things that have helped. Think I appreciated most of all the unobtrusive help, eg those that left a cottage pie at the gate during chemo week and tiptoed off with a text to tell me it was there. What I most unappreciated were unannounced visits from ppl i didn't know very well, esp when they stayed for ages, happened a couple of times.. But knowing that so many cared was such a huge thing, and I think would be even more comforting to know that my family has such a support army if, God forbid, it were to all go pear-shaped on me down the line a bit.

supergreenuk Thu 30-Sep-10 08:27:04

I have a lump. Very different from breast tissue and I would say pin head size. I went to get it checked out at the breast clinic. They gave me a scan and said it was fine but come back in 3 months if it is still there or has got bigger.
Can you tell it possible they think it could still be something if they want me to go back for further test in 3 months. Why not do further tests now?

smee Thu 30-Sep-10 13:28:22

supergreenuk, they'd have done a biopsy if they were at all alarmed, so I'd say you're okay. It sounds as though it was a cyst, but I'd have thought they should have told you more details. Why not call them and ask? Might set your mind at rest.

whethergirl Thu 30-Sep-10 20:24:48

Just wanted to say that there are obviously high risk factors but that we are all indvidual and our bodies don't always follow statistics. I had BC when I was 27 (11 years ago) and no-one in my family had it or has it since, so to get it at such a young age in these circumstances was against all the odds.

I'd also like to say, without rocking the boat or worrying anyone, that having seen oncologists now on a regular basis for check ups for the last 11 years, I have found there is sometimes a difference of opinions.

My current oncologist (who I've only seen for the last few years) for example, told me to give up extended breastfeeding and to think cautiously about getting pregnant again! He thinks that such big hormonal changes could trigger cancer hormones. I was devasted as I always thought bf kept it at bay. I'll never forget, he told me "Your boy is big enough now. Enough of this breastfeeding" - (my ds was nearly 2) and that was my first consultation with him! He also said the lumps are harder to spot during bf. He told me to stay away from HRT in the future, he was in no doubt that there is a definite link and even told me many of his patients were taking HRT when diagnosed (although I do think that might possibly be because of the age group bc is associated with). Also as soya milk user, I asked him if this was safe and he said nothing has been proven and that bc is lower in asian countries where a lot of soya is consumed. However, due to the oestrageon he still advised me to avoid it with his better safe than sorry policy!

All this information alarmed and angered me because no-one mentioned anything about bf, pregnancy, soya or hrt during my treatment. I mean even if they are theories, shouldn't we still be made aware so that we can decide for ourselves?

Also, during and for several years after (much to the disgust of my current oncologist!) I took the pill. My previous oncologists never brought it up and my doctors who knew I'd had BC kept prescribing it. My current oncologist told me that I might as well have been taking BC hormone pills!

To be honest, I don't like my current oncologist very much although I've heard he is exceptionally good. He makes me feel that it's really quite easy to get bc, whereas I feel after 11 years of being clear, it's unlikely to come back.

whethergirl Thu 30-Sep-10 20:27:31

Just wanted to also add for those asking about how to identify lumps, I don't know if mine was the norm but I felt a very solid lump, like a ball, it was very definite and unusual and not like normal breast lumps. I never used to check myself back then, but luckily the lump just happened to be in an awkward position and I kept feeling it "catch" on something inside my breast.

wubblybubbly Thu 30-Sep-10 20:51:43

I would really like to see an awareness campaign that covers all the different types of breast cancers, particularly inflammatory breast cancer, which doesn't present with a lump and is still, far too often, misdiagnosed.

I didn't have a clue that there were so many different types of breast cancer. I naively thought that large or painful lumps were nothing to worry about.

From talking to friends and family, it seems many women still don't actually know what to look for, beyond the pea sized, painless lump.

kayme Thu 30-Sep-10 22:30:31

How do you check if you are breast feeding? As your boobs feel differnt.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 01-Oct-10 14:32:12

Many thanks for all your questions that we've sent over to the folks at Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer Care. As there are so many questions, it may be a week before we link through to the archive, but we'll let you know as soon as the answers are up from this thread (as well as the home page etc.)

Renaissancewoman Fri 01-Oct-10 14:40:41

My questions are about causes and the current research results:

1.Is there any evidence that larger breasted women are more prone to breast cancer?
2. Is there any evidence that breastfeeding helps reduce the incidence of breast cancer. If yes, is there any evidence that longer term breast feeding further reduces incidence of breast feeding eg breast feeding children to beyond 18 months of age, 3 times?
3. Is there any evidence of a link between diet rich in animal fat/dairy foods being causative in breast cancer? Conversely is there any evidence of vegetarians having lower rates of breast cancer?


poshsinglemum Sun 03-Oct-10 00:18:08

IMO everything can cause cancer. My mum hasn't had HRT, has never smoked etc and she still has got mouth cancer. We now live on a toxic planet. There are so many carcinogens. Enjoy each day. Carpe diem! cancer is a terrible thing but it dosn't always mean a death sentance.

Mumsie87 Sun 03-Oct-10 18:12:53

I have recently found out my nan who is my dad's mother has had breast cancer for three years. She has been treated for it. When i found out i was worried for me and my sister is there a chance i could be at risk due to family history?

jenisurvivor Fri 08-Oct-10 22:19:34

Hi sandripples and the other lady,

The lump they found with me was at my 50's check too and low and behold ended up having the same treatment as you and completed radiotherapy end of April. I was at Guy's and St Thomas's they were a wonderful team and were there for me 24/7 as I had nobody at home to look after me.

Mine wasn't a lump so much as an indentation when I lifted my arm, like a puckering and I had noticed a difference a short while before and thought it was odd.

Anyway hope you're all alright out there, pretty tough wasn't it?

sandripples Sat 09-Oct-10 13:12:08

Thanks for your message Jenisurvivor. Yes I'm doing fine thanks (apart from a frozen shoulder at the mo!)

Hope you are also keeping well.

KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 11-Oct-10 17:15:39


Just to let you all know that Breast Cancer Care and Breakthrough Breast Cancer have now sent their answers back to us - we've put them over here.

Thanks again to everyone who posted questions.

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