'Checking breasts could save your life'
THIS month Cancer Research UK is raising awareness of breast cancer.
In conjunction with the month-long campaign, a Frome grandmother who has been diagnosed with breast cancer is urging women of all ages to self-check regularly.
Tomorrow Barbara Bacon, 65, will be undergoing a mastectomy at the Royal United Hospital in Bath followed by chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone treatment. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in August.
Mrs Bacon has been having regular mammograms since she was 50 as part of the nationwide screening programme.
She had felt a lump in her breast but admits to have become complacent.
Mrs Bacon said: "Being post-menopausal, I no longer have that regular trigger of hormonal changes to the breasts each month to remind me to check myself.
"I am a busy woman and there is always lots to do and so I didn't check myself as regularly as I should have done. I felt the lump only when it was quite large."
She was referred to the RUH and the mammogram did not reveal anything. She waited for an ultrasound scan that showed the tumour and the fact that it had spread into a least one lymph gland. But even this did not reveal its size. She had to have an MRI scan for the surgeon to be sure of the size.
Mrs Bacon added: "What I didn't know and from talking to many of my clients and friends what many women do not realise, is that mammograms pick up about 80 per cent of breast cancers – some like mine cannot be detected on this test."
The mother-of-three daughters and four grandchildren believes that undergoing regular mammograms are very important but self-checking is also vital.
To get the message across she wants to see literature distributed by the people who bring the mammogram vans to towns and villages explaining to all women who go for screening, the necessity for checking themselves and why.
She feels GP practices should also be alerting patients too.
She added: "Breast cancer is not just something that older women get, it can affect women of all ages from their early twenties to nineties."
Breast cancer is now the most common cancer in the UK with more than 49,500 women diagnosed with breast cancer every year, that is around 136 women a day.
To find out about how to self check, symptoms, through to diagnosis and treatment visit www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-help/type/breast-cancer/