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Clinical information


Vaginal dryness and irritation is one of a range of unwanted side effects of breast cancer treatment. It is experienced by many women, and can make day-to-day life uncomfortable and sex painful.

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Many of the chemotherapy drugs used in breast cancer cause hair loss and most women will be told about this before starting treatment.

Knowing in advance about this side effect can help people organise a wig or other headwear and think about strategies that might help them cope when it...

‘Everyone expects me to have reconstruction but I don’t want it.’

When women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK, everyone offered a mastectomy and who is physically fit enough for the surgery is also offered breast reconstruction.

This might be...

It can be a great relief when you come to the end of treatment for breast cancer, but we know that it may also be a time when the legacy of everything you’ve been through suddenly catches up with you. This can feel overwhelming.

Whether it’s managing the ongoing side effects of treatment...

One of the many less well known side effects of having breast cancer is that finding the right bra after surgery can be difficult, sometimes even distressing and traumatic. 

To support women in this situation and build their confidence with practical information, we run regular free...

Are you coming to the end of treatment but anxious about what happens now? Are you still coping with side effects, even though your hospital-based treatment has finished? Are you worried that your cancer could come back?

Our...

NHS England has announced (Thursday 28 August) that the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) is to get an additional £160 million in funding over the next two years.

Who this helps

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Here at Breast Cancer Care, we host the Nursing Network. It's a UK-wide membership body providing training and networking opportunities for healthcare professionals who spend 50% or more of their time with breast cancer patients.

Launched in 2010, it aims to ensure...

When Helpline staff talk to people calling with breast health or breast cancer questions, it’s vital that the information we give is clinically accurate and of a high standard. So the team works hard to keep our clinical knowledge up to date.

Update days

Twice a year we have an...

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will not recommend a drug called T-DM1 (Kadcyla), which is used to treat a type of secondary breast cancer,...

Five UK hospitals are asking their patients with secondary breast cancer how they feel about the support and services available locally. The survey is part of the Secondary Breast Cancer Pledge, a partnership between Breast Cancer Care and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

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Many people tell us that they put on weight during and after treatment, and they contact us for ideas on how to get back to their original weight.

Putting on weight can be a distressing as well as unexpected effect of treatment. It can affect how you feel about your body and leave you...

Many people who call us on the Helpline think that having breast cancer automatically means the dreaded ‘chemo’. In fact treatment decisions depend on your particular case. Chemotherapy is just one of the treatments that may or may not be offered to you...

A new type of radiotherapy treatment that could significantly improve the quality of life for some women diagnosed with breast cancer may soon be available as an NHS treatment.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued draft guidance today (Friday 25 July) on...

Being told you have breast cancer may be one of the most devastating things you’ll ever hear.

The mixture of emotions experienced is as varied as there are people diagnosed. One of our website discussion Forum users, lyndseyloo...

In the BBC television programme EastEnders, the character Carol Jackson is being treated for breast cancer and has found out that she is a BRCA2 gene carrier.

This means her disease is among the 5% of breast cancers caused by genes passed on from a parent. As well as BRCA2, other...

New guidance published today recommends that people who either have or are at risk of lymphoedema because of breast cancer are told by their doctors and nurses about the potential benefits of physical activity.

Breast Cancer Care Clinical Nurse Specialist Rachel Rawson has welcomed the...

Widely reported today is a new study from University College London. Researchers have identified a DNA signature (groups of genes with a uniquely combined pattern) in blood samples that, if present, means a woman is at higher risk of developing breast cancer.

The DNA signature was...

Menopausal symptoms can be difficult to deal with at any time, but warmer summer weather can make it even harder for people coping with hot flushes and night sweats.

Hot flushes and night sweats are the most common menopausal symptoms experienced as a side effect of lots of different...

Most people will have surgery as part of their breast cancer treatment. This might be breast-conserving surgery (usually called wide local excision or lumpectomy) or removing your whole breast (mastectomy) with or without breast reconstruction.

Looking for the first time

Even...

Most of the calls to our Helpline are from women. That’s because nearly 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in UK each year compared to around 350 men.

Being in a minority such as this creates problems on top of the difficulties of being diagnosed with breast cancer, as Doug (...

‘Hi, it’s one of your Someones.’

That’s how one of our volunteers introduced herself when she visited the office soon after we relaunched our one-to-one peer support service as Someone Like Me. It made us all laugh but it also...

Newspapers this week are highlighting research suggesting that women with breast cancer in the US may be choosing to have both breasts removed (a double mastectomy) when they are actually at low risk of getting cancer in the healthy breast. Also, having it removed won’t reduce the chances of...

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published a draft quality standard to help end the so-called ‘postcode lottery’ on fertility treatment, including funding for IVF.

At Breast Cancer Care, we speak to many young women diagnosed with breast cancer who have...

When someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, many other people are also affected.

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Breast cancer treatments can leave people dealing with many physical and emotional changes.

The side effects of treatment, whether temporary or permanent, can profoundly affect the way a woman views her body. Women describe feeling a ‘loss of self’ – who they were before cancer – together...

One of the sad facts about breast cancer is that sometimes, despite the best available treatment for primary breast cancer, people go on to develop incurable secondary illness.

It’s not possible to predict someone’s life expectancy accurately after such a diagnosis, but people...

Some of you may have seen EastEnders on Friday and Monday in which Carol collapses and ends up in hospital. Carol has been having docetaxel (Taxotere) chemotherapy as part of her treatment for breast cancer...

People often call our Helpline wanting to discuss how best to look after their scars following surgery.

Any surgery will leave some scarring, but the nature of the scar differs from person to person. For example, we know that people with black skin or with fair freckled skin and red hair...

Checking your breasts is important because, although survival rates for breast cancer are improving, the number of people being diagnosed is going up – nearly 55,000 people in the UK every year, with around 350 cases in men. And if you do find a change in your breast that turns out to be cancer...

If you or someone you love needs support during the long Easter weekend, our online Forum is always open.

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The European Breast Cancer Conference, held in Glasgow, brought together experts in the field of breast cancer to present new data and new ways of thinking about risk factors, treatment and treatment side effects, to name a few of the topics covered.

I listened to a number of...

Being diagnosed with breast cancer or having a relative with the disease does not usually increase the risk for other family members.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. Every year nearly 55,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer. Most of these develop it by chance,...

Breast cancer in men is rare. About 400 men are diagnosed each year in the UK compared to nearly 55,000 women.

About five per cent of breast cancers diagnosed are because of altered breast cancer genes passed on by parents. Both women and men can inherit and pass on altered breast cancer...

When we announced the winners of our 2013 Nursing Network Awards, we said we’d post more details of the winning projects. The awards go to individuals or...

When and how do I tell my children that my breast cancer was because I carry an altered breast cancer gene that can be passed on?

Around 5% of breast cancers diagnosed are because of genes passed on by parents. For example, when people have inherited one of the known...

Breast Cancer Care’s Helpline answers many questions about the effects of lifestyle after breast cancer.

Some people want to know whether doing certain things – like drinking alcohol – could increase the risk of their cancer coming back (recurrence). Many people want to know if they can...

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, and lots of people know how important it is to look after their breasts by being breast aware.

But many of those same people don’t have a clear idea of what to look and feel for when they check...

Some treatments for breast cancer can cause menopausal symptoms. And because we take lots of calls on our Helpline – and written questions through our Ask the Nurse email service – we know about the negative impact of these symptoms on...

Two powerful groups of MPs and peers with a special interest in breast and ovarian cancer have come together to talk about improving services for people with a family history of the cancers.

As clinical nurse specialist for family history and breast health at Breast Cancer Care, I went to...

The answer to this is yes because women over the age of 70 are still at risk.

And today (Monday 3 February) Public Health England launches a new national Be Clear on Cancer campaign to remind older women to visit their doctor if they spot any changes in their breasts. ...

When your partner is diagnosed with breast cancer, your life can be turned upside-down too. It can be hard to know the right thing to say and to talk to each other about relationship and practical issues.

If you're in this situation, you might find it helpful to talk to someone else who’s...

Decisions about breast reconstruction surgery are complex and can be difficult to make.

There are many different procedures designed to restore your breast shape after surgery for breast cancer, and various possible timings. This means discussions about what might be best for you probably...


Eat well DVDDid you know that increasing your physical activity can...

Lots of people are surprised to find out that men can have breast cancer too. This is because we don’t usually think of men as having breasts, but both men and women have breast tissue.

Of the 55,000 new cases diagnosed in the UK each year, about 400 are in men. And in the...

A new storyline in Eastenders has begun, focusing on much-loved character Carol Jackson, played by Lindsey Coulson, and a breast cancer scare.

Last week, Carol was shown feeling her breasts for an unusual change and tonight sees her go through the process of reporting this change to...

Our aim is to be here for every person affected by breast cancer, and this support can be vital during the festive period.

In the second of two blogs aiming to help you understand the services we make available for anyone affected by breast cancer over the holidays, I asked Amanda*, one...

As the only specialist breast cancer support charity working across the UK, we want to be here with support and information, even during the festive period, when we know people can sometimes need it more than ever.

In the first of two blogs aiming to help you understand what services we...

‘If pay equalled worth, I’d be in a room full of millionaires,’ said our Ambassador Amanda Mealing speaking to around 200 breast care nurses at the Breast Cancer Care Annual Conference last month.

She was announcing the winners of our...

Several news sources have reported that a new test could spare thousands of women unnecessary treatment for breast cancer.

Researchers say they’ve identified a molecule that could help doctors decide when an early form of breast cancer, called...

Patient advocacy at the Advanced Breast Cancer 2 (ABC2) International Consensus Conference

Advanced breast cancer is widely misunderstood by the public, and people affected by it often feel isolated and unsupported. This was the loud and clear message from the...

You’d think it would be straightforward these days to get access to information that helps us make choices about the treatments and care we receive. We live in ‘the information age’ surely?

So why is it that when it comes to information about health, we are so often let down?

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Support for younger women with breast cancer

Sometimes only someone who’s been there can really understand what you’re going through. Being diagnosed with breast cancer as a younger woman can be incredibly isolating and we often hear how difficult it can be to find...

Hi, my name's Carol and I'm part of the UK-wide team based in our Sheffield office. I help coordinate and develop our Living with Secondary Breast Cancer services. 

I speak to lots of...

Sometimes only someone who’s been there can really understand what you’re going through. That’s why we set up our One-to-One Support service where you can speak to a trained volunteer who’s been through a similar breast cancer...

Hi, I’m Steph from the UK-Wide Services team based in Sheffield. A big part of my role is working on the Younger Women’s Forums – a hugely rewarding job.

Six times a year we bring together a group of...

As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, our Publishing team got together this week with staff and volunteers from Wikipedia to learn about how we can help improve breast cancer content on the free, collaborative internet encyclopedia.

All our editors now have Wikipedia editing...

We know that treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone drugs can leave a woman with problematic menopausal symptoms, loss of femininity, feelings of anxiety and depression, as well as not feeling sexy or sexually attractive.

But because we talk...

One of the most interesting parts of editing Vita is interviewing the people affected by breast cancer that we feature each issue. Sometimes I get to meet them in real life, which is even better.

While putting together the Autumn issue of Vita I met Louisa Howarth, our cover star, and her...

Today is the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), giving us a great platform to tell more people about breast cancer and the importance of early detection and breast...

Flu is an infection caused by a virus. It generally takes hold during the winter. So lots of GPs (local doctors) run flu vaccination clinics from September.

The vaccine is offered free to people who are more at risk of catching flu or of having more serious complications from it. This...

Women invited for screening as part of the NHS Breast Screening Programme in England will receive a new information leaflet.

The leaflet, called NHS Breast Screening: helping you decide,...

Being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer can affect the people around you in different ways, whether it’s a partner, family or friends.

Earlier in the year, we made a video about talking to people about secondary breast cancer. The video features Tara Beaumont, a clinical nurse...

The first in-depth study of people with secondary breast cancer has found that current care is inadequate.

The study, which was published in BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care, followed the experiences of 10 women with secondary breast cancer, aged between 40 and 78. The study was part...

We’re delighted to announce that Vita – Breast Cancer Care’s popular quarterly magazine – has a brand new website.

Vita online has all the breast cancer news, features and real stories you’ll find in the magazine, and more.

And our new website’s...

National guidance published today makes new recommendations for the testing, prevention and monitoring of familial breast cancer.

The guidance, published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), includes recommendations for people who’ve had breast cancer and also...

The people behind the numbers

We want every person affected by breast cancer to receive the best treatment, information and support, with all our work aimed at making that vision a reality.

We keep careful...

I wrote last year that I was watching how the iPad version of our award-winning free picture book Mummy’s Lump was performing. We launched this read-aloud format of the book...

There’s growing evidence that taking the hormone therapy drug tamoxifen for 10 years rather than five reduces the risk of breast cancer coming back.

A study of 7,000 people by...

When people are worried, upset or just want to mull things over with someone who understands what they’re going through, talking on the phone isn’t always the best option. We know some people prefer the anonymity of email or they find it easier to write their feelings down rather than talk about...

Actress Angelina Jolie has written a personal account of being told she has a fault in her BRCA1 gene and her decision to have a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction to reduce her risk of developing breast cancer.

Writing in the...

Volunteer for us, and you could find yourself talking to a committee of MPs and Peers at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.

That’s what happened to Judy Dadswell, who’s been a one-to-one telephone support volunteer...

This website is the main source of information and support for many women with breast cancer around the world, as I learnt during...

Improving the treatment, support and care of people affected by breast cancer is a core part of our work here. Sometimes this means we get the chance to learn about and help spread gold standard care and support initiatives at international...

We get a lot of questions about breast reconstruction to our Helpline and our Ask the Nurse email service. Here is a sample.

What is breast reconstruction?

Breast reconstruction is the creation of a new breast shape...

I’ve been part of the Services team here for more than two years. I travel the country delivering our face- to-face information and support services to people affected by breast cancer.

Many of the women I meet tell me that a diagnosis of breast cancer can be very isolating; that despite...

Commenting on the decision today by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence not to recommend everolimus (also known as Afinitor and made by Novartis Pharmaceuticals) for the treatment of postmenopausal women with HER2 negative, hormone-receptor-positive secondary breast cancer...

Breast Cancer Care comments on new treatment for advanced HER2-positive breast cancer patients as Perjeta (pertuzumab) gets regulatory green light.

Dr Emma Pennery, Clinical Director of Breast Cancer Care said:

“...

Experts at Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Campaign have joined forces with Telegraph health blogger Judith Potts to host an open forum, answering questions from Telegraph readers about breast...

A new service to help patients in Scotland cope with the impact of hair loss after cancer treatment is being launched by Scottish broadcaster Kaye Adams in Glasgow on Wednesday 27 February. The service is run by leading support charity Breast Cancer Care in partnership with Cancer Support...

Breast Cancer Care comments on new research showing that lung cancer is set to overtake breast cancer as the main cause of cancer death among European women by 2015, published today, Wednesday 13 February 2013, in Annals of Oncology.

Jackie Harris,...

A Parliamentary inquiry into how older people with breast cancer are treated and cared for wants people to come forward and talk about their experiences.

The inquiry is being held by the ...

Hello. My name is Denise Delaney and in September 2012 I joined Breast Cancer Care as Helpline and Ask the Nurse Manager.

Since then I've seen amazing work every day, and I feel proud to be part of an organisation that makes such a difference to the lives of so many people. 

...

Breast cancer has received much news coverage in the last 48 hours, with headlines claiming there is a ‘Drug that prevents breast cancer for 20 years’ (Daily Mail) and ‘500,000 women to be offered breast cancer drugs’ (Guardian).

Why are breast cancer drugs in...

The unique insight and support of our trained one-to-one peer support volunteers is now available by email alongside the established telephone service.

Sometimes only someone who’s been there can really understand what you’re going through. And sometimes it’s easier not to talk face to...

As we tidy away the trappings of the festive season and put the past year behind us, we may also think about the year ahead. Birthdays, holidays and family occasions go into new diaries and calendars.

For many in treatment for breast cancer, there'll be a point in 2013 when that treatment...

Commenting on latest figures revealing significant cuts to Cancer Networks, Jane Hatfield, Director of Policy and Research at Breast Cancer Care, said:

'People undergoing breast cancer treatment and their families will be...

One of the first awareness weeks of 2013 is National Braille Week, which takes place from 4-11 January.

Braille uses raised dots which can be felt with the fingertips and is one way for...

Commenting on the latest data from the Phase III CLEOPATRA study, presented on 8 December at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS), which shows that Perjeta (pertuzumab) can prolong the lives of people with advanced HER2-positive breast cancer when used in combination...

Oncotype DX is a gene profiling test that can help determine whether a person diagnosed with breast cancer will benefit from having chemotherapy and how likely it is that their cancer will return in future.

On Friday 30 November, I chaired a one-day conference for breast care nurses...

There are many different types of complementary therapy, from acupuncture and aromatherapy to homeopathy and hypnotherapy.

We know that many people who’ve had breast cancer try complementary therapies...

As a charity that spends a lot of time talking and listening to people affected by breast cancer, we know you want and need accurate, up-to-date and accessible breast care information.

High-quality information resources can help people to understand the issues and make difficult decisions...

New guidelines for UK teams providing oncoplastic breast reconstruction have just been launched, along with a summary of the guidelines for patients.

The guidelines aim to ensure all breast cancer patients are well...

Commenting on an article published in Environmental Health Perspectives,‘Breast cancer risk in relation to occupations with exposure to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors: a Canadian case-control study’, Breast Cancer Care Clinical Nurse Specialist Carolyn Rogers said...

Patient information. It sounds like a simple concept, but it draws in a spider’s web of ideas, challenges, systems and technologies that the NHS has been struggling to bring together for a long time now.

Understanding that this is a tangle helps to answer the question:

...

Over the past year, a panel of experts have been looking at existing evidence about the UK's breast screening programme.

The results of this independent breast screening review, commissioned by Cancer Research UK and the Department of Health, are published in today’s Lancet.

All...

‘Information and support for anyone affected by breast cancer’. These words, which appear near the top of every page of our website, describe very succinctly what we do.

I’m the Clinical Director at Breast Cancer Care. I lead a team of 10 nurses, and together we play an important role in...

Commenting on the UK availability of everolimus (Afinitor) for people with secondary breast cancer, Breast Cancer Care Clinical Nurse Specialist Jackie Harris said:

'As the first mTOR inhibitor, the availability of everolimus (Afinitor) in the UK for...

We know that the time after breast cancer treatment can be a tricky one for some people – those regular visits to the hospital are over yet things don’t feel back to ‘normal’ or how people would liek them them to be.

As you will know, people often face many physical and emotional...

Commenting on new National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidance on the use of opioids as a first-line treatment option to relieve pain for patients receiving palliative care, Dr Emma Pennery, Clinical Director at Breast Cancer Care said:

'Pain can be a significant problem...

Responding to draft guidance from The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommending the use of denosumab (Xgeva, Amgen) for patients with bone metastases (where breast cancer has spread to the bones), Tara Beaumont, Clinical Nurse Specialist for secondary breast...

Responding to a review of the literature about alcohol and breast cancer which concludes that alcohol is causally related with breast cancer, and at intakes of up to one alcoholic drink (10-12g of ethanol) per day can increase risk, Grete Brauten Smith, Clinical Nurse Specialist at Breast Cancer...

Commenting on a paper ‘European cancer mortality predictions for the year 2012’ in the Annals of Oncology which anticipates a substantial reduction in deaths from breast cancer, Jackie Harris, Clinical Nurse Specialist for Breast Cancer Care said:  

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