Dr Allison Hall is an experienced consultant in clinical oncology, specialising in breast cancer at Clatterbridge Private Clinic, a purpose-build, modern centre in Wirral which provides private cancer treatment for patients from the region, and further afield. We spoke to Dr Hall about breast cancer, what you need to know about the disease, the signs to look out for and the latest treatment options.
Of course, no one wants to think about themselves or a family member getting ill, but with breast cancer still the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK, it’s important to not only understand the signs and symptoms, but to also to be aware of the choices available for treatment in the region.
Usually breast cancer patients are given the option of treatment after a referral by their breast surgeon. At Clatterbridge Private Clinic, patients then meet with a team of experts, including an Oncologist, who will decide upon the most appropriate course of treatment. From then on, patients are treated by the same small specialist team in the same familiar environment each time, making the experience as stress free as possible.”
What are the treatment options for breast cancer?
Breast cancer can affect both women and men. According to statistics from cancer research, over 55,000 new cases are diagnosed in women every year. It is rarer in men, with 389 cases per year. But although breast cancer is common, it is also very treatable if caught early. Improved screening procedures, wider awareness and continuing advancements in treatment mean that survival rates are at their highest.
Breast cancer is one of the most researched cancer types and treatments are constantly evolving. It is no longer regarded as one single disease, rather a number of different types. Better understanding and advancements in areas such as precision medicine, where genetic information is used to both diagnose a cancer and to determine treatment, are enabling doctors to tailor treatment pathways to an individual’s unique needs and deliver personalised cancer care.
Treatment for breast cancer usually involves surgery first, followed by chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Modern surgical techniques mean that the breast can be conserved or reconstructed. Many patients are given hormonal and some biological treatment or, if suitable, enrolled on clinical trials. Even in the unfortunate case where cancer has already spread to other organs (secondaries), there are many treatment options available, depending on the type of cancer and the extent to which it has spread.
At Clatterbridge Private Clinic, the treatment you receive will be based on what is best for you and we are always looking at the latest treatment options. For example, by using the most up to date radiotherapy techniques we are now able to complete all breast cancer radiotherapy treatment within a three-week period.
What should people be aware of when it comes to breast cancer?
The earlier any cancer is diagnosed, the better the outlook for the patient. In the UK every woman between the ages of 50 and 70 is invited to have a mammogram every three years. However, I have treated a number of cases of women in their 20s, 30s and 40s, so self-examination and awareness should not only become a priority as you get older. All women and men need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, to know what is normal for them and to seek medical help if there are any changes. The most recognised of these is a lump in the breast or the armpit. But lumps in the neck can also occur. Other symptoms include:
Whilst you should be aware of your family medical history, contrary to popular belief, the majority of breast cancer patients do not actually have a family history of the disease. In fact, it is still difficult to determine why one person develops breast cancer over another, although there are a number of recognised risk factors. Lifestyle and hormonal factors can have an impact, including being overweight, high alcohol intake, physical inactivity, starting your periods early, late menopause, not having children or having them later in life. Taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and the contraceptive pill are also known to increase the risk.
How can patients access private treatment with Clatterbridge Private Clinic?
Choice is a fundamental part of any cancer treatment. If you’ve recently been diagnosed, deciding where you want to receive your care can be a complex process. Your consultant will help you to explain some of the benefits private cancer care can offer. At Clatterbridge Private Clinic we provide private patients with rapid access to the latest treatments and technologies – all delivered in surroundings, which have been purposely designed to ensure patients are as comfortable and relaxed as possible the minute they walk through the door.
Please contact us directly if you would like further information about treatment for breast or other cancers.
Clatterbridge Private Clinic, 0151 556 5391 www.clatterbridgeprivate.co.uk/