LESLEY Hutchins knows the trauma of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
But the 45-year-old has praised a pioneering technique, which looks to see if cancer cells have spread further, without having to go under the knife again.
Lesley, a catering assistant, said: ‘I found a cyst in my right breast and went to the doctors, who referred me to have a mammogram.
‘The cyst was a cyst, but the mammogram found a pea-sized lump behind it, which was cancerous.
‘It’s strange as your life just carries on. You’re out and about doing normal things like shopping, but in your mind you’re thinking about cancer. I thought about my two boys and what would happen.’
Lesley, of Harold Road, Hayling Island, had a mastectomy at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, last month and is now going through radio and chemotherapy.
And while she was there doctors also checked to see if the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes by doing a rapid diagnostic test called the Breast Lymph Node Assay.
The assay uses biological techniques to detect small numbers of cancer cells in the lymph node while the patient is anaesthetised.
But rather than being sent off to pathology labs to be tested, it is done in the hospital while the patient is still under.
If cancer is detected, then the nodes can be removed during the same procedure.
It means the patient doesn’t need to be operated on twice.
While Lesley was having her mastectomy, the assay test found cancer had spread to her lymph nodes.
‘There were no second thoughts about having the mastectomy,’ added Lesley.
‘You just want to get the cancer out of your body.
‘I was also told about the lymph node testing and agreed to that too.
‘Being told you have cancer is something so massive that you need to overcome it physiologically.
‘Anything to stop the trauma of having to go through tests, and waiting for results, and then having surgery again, is great.
‘It means you can go onto having your radio and chemotherapy.’
Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust was the first trust in the country to introduce the test in 2007.
Since then more than 1,000 women have been tested.
Dr Constantinos Yiangou, consultant breast surgeon, said: ‘This is a positive development for women with breast cancer.
‘We are able to deal with it more quickly than if we waited for the results following a traditional breast cancer operation.
‘We know women can feel very anxious when waiting for biopsy results, and the accuracy of this technique allows us to inform patients soon after the operation.’
Quick check that could save a life
BOTH men and women are encouraged to check for breast cancer signs once a month by looking and feeling each breast and armpit – it may be easier to do this with a soapy hand in the bath or shower, or by looking in a mirror.
Moving your arms around will allow you to see your breasts from every angle.
You should see your GP if you notice differences such as:
· A change in the size, outline or shape of the breast.
· A change in the look or feel of the skin, such as puckering or dimpling.
· Any discomfort or pain in one breast.
· A new lump, thickening or bumpy area in one breast or armpit, that is different from the same area on the other side.
· A rash, on or around, your nipple
· To find out more visit the Breast Cancer Care website