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

(75 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.

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.

whomovedmychocolate Sat 25-Sep-10 21:35:29

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.

whomovedmychocolate Sun 26-Sep-10 08:14:48

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.

lisad123isgoingcrazy Mon 27-Sep-10 22:55:45

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...

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