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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...

One of the many hidden effects of having breast cancer is that travel becomes more complicated, and sometimes more expensive, especially if you're going abroad.

Helpful hints

Travel queries are among the many reasons why people contact our ...

Fears about breast cancer coming back are often raised by people phoning our Helpline.

...

To prepare for Secondary Breast Cancer Awareness Day on Monday (13 October), we asked people with secondary breast cancer how they deal with symptoms and side effects such as pain. Secondary breast cancer is when the cancer cells have spread from your breast to other parts of your body. It can...

Our Helpline often gets calls from people who have had surgery to their lymph nodes as part of their breast cancer treatment and are now worried about their risk of lymphoedema or have already developed it....

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...

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...

As we go about our daily lives, we sometimes need to phone different organisations - utility companies, GP practices, insurance companies and hospitals, for example. And sometimes we don't know who's going to be on the other end of the line or what to expect.

Questions or concerns

...


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.

...

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...

There’s been media coverage today (Thursday 28 August) of research that suggests many people with cancer who are clinically depressed aren't getting the treatment they need.*

Meanwhile another recent study has highlighted that more than 9% of...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Does wearing an underwired bra increase your risk of breast cancer? This is one of the questions we are often asked. And the answer is: no, it doesn’t.

But if your bra is too tight or too small, the...

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...

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...

I have a frozen shoulder. Is it safe to have steroid injections or surgery on my lymphoedema ‘at-risk' side?

Our Helpline often gets calls from people who have had surgery to their lymph nodes as part of...

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

...

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...

Every year just over 5,000 women under the age of 45 are diagnosed with breast cancer.

To help support them, we've worked with more than 200 younger women and breast cancer specialists to develop a set of the...

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...

Mother’s Day, on 30 March this year, can be a difficult time when you no longer have a mother. As others are making a fuss of their mum, it can bring up your feelings of loss and sadness.

Working on the Helpline, we hear from many younger women supporting their mums when they have...

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...

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...

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...

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...

A breast cancer diagnosis is difficult for anyone to take in. However, it’s easy to forget about the impact it can have on close family and friends. This may include a partner, mother, sister, child or an employer or work colleague, to name but a few.

Calls to our...

We often hear on the Helpline from people worried that they’ve put on weight during and after breast cancer treatment.

This can happen for several reasons. For example, some drugs can increase your appetite, you may be...

As a breast care nurse working mainly on our Helpline and Ask the Nurse email service, most of the enquiries I deal with are from women. That’s because nearly 55,000 women develop breast cancer in UK each year compared to around 400 men.

Being in a minority such as this creates problems...

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...

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...

An innovative drug treatment for secondary breast cancer has received its UK licence.

Patients with HER2-positive, secondary breast cancer and their families will welcome today’s news that pertuzumab (Perjeta) has been approved for use in the UK.

What type of drug is...

Breast Cancer Care's Clinical team went global in February as I boarded a flight for Melbourne, Australia to speak at a national breast care nurse conference. 

The two-day event links breast care nurses throughout Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia, updating them with...

Every year, around 55,000 people, many of them mothers or grandmothers, are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK.

Sunday 10 March is Mothers’ Day, and we want to highlight some of the ways we’re helping mums up and down the country.

Doing it for Mum

This...

It’s impossible to escape the onslaught of hearts and flowers around St Valentine's day, but many people find that diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer puts their relationships under a great deal of strain. For some, the experience brings them closer together but others find they have to...

For working parents half term means thinking ahead about childcare. But a diagnosis of breast cancer doesn’t usually leave a lot of time for forward planning.

Breast cancer, its treatment and side effects can disrupt normal family routines for months. We know from talking to people...

You’ve tackled the turkey, munched the mince pies, cleared away the Christmas debris and it’s finally time for a sit down. But for many people the festive season can be difficult, especially if you’ve got other things on your mind.

...

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...

While working on the Helpline today, I spoke to someone who had noticed a change to her breast and was waiting for an appointment at the hospital breast clinic, having been referred by her GP (local doctor).

She was feeling really anxious, and worried about how long she would have to wait...

Designed to let women know more about breast reconstruction options when they've had surgery for breast cancer, today (Wednesday 17 October) the UK is recognising and promoting Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day.

It has previously taken place in Canada and the US as part of ...

Every October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the UK, the number of calls to our national Helpline increases. The month's activities bring a mixture of responses.

For some people diagnosed with breast cancer, even months or years ago, Breast Cancer Awareness Month can...

Our Helpline will be closed on Monday 27 August because of the bank holiday.

Our usual opening hours are 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 2pm on Saturdays.

Calls are answered by nurses and trained staff...

We hear from many women experiencing hot flushes during or after their breast cancer treatment. It can be tough adding hot flushes to the task of balancing treatments, home life and work life. Personal relationships can also be affected.

Hot flushes can be a side effect of some...

At Living with Secondary Breast Cancer you can do just that. The monthly sessions are relaxed and informal, and you can talk about whatever’s on your mind, whether you’re having a good day or a bad one. The important thing is that everybody understands and you don’t need to explain yourself or...

With the holiday season in full swing, we are getting calls to our Helpline about travelling abroad after treatment and where to get insurance.

Travel insurance

People often find that looking forward to a trip after finishing treatment or while having a break from it can make...

The year 2012 has already delivered a lot of sporting competitions, and now the London Olympics are finally here!  Whether it’s on TV, radio, billboards or in the written press, the Olympic rings and Team GB logo are absolutely everywhere.

I have to admit that despite the thought of...

I don’t know about you, but this great English weather has me wishing I could hop on a plane and head for warmer and sunnier climes. Last year we wrote about the introduction of airport body scanners to the UK, but the Helpline has recently started to receive more calls on this topic, so I...

Are you wondering when you might expect to be invited for your first routine breast screening?  A number of our Helpline callers have asked about this as they are confused about age extension to the screening programme.

At the moment women from the age of 50 to 70 are invited every...

May was a busy month for the Helpline team. We responded to 110 Ask the Nurse enquires and answered 1,143 calls, both services were busier than this time last year.

Last month 16% of our callers were under 40, 56% between 40 and 60 years old, and 28% of callers being 60 +. 

...

Many of you who have had surgery to your armpit to remove or sample the lymph nodes call our Helpline asking questions about the potential risk of developing lymphoedema and ask how to spot the first signs of this problem.

You may be interested to know that often, before showing any...

The Helpline will be open on Saturday 2 June (from 10am to 2pm). 

We will be closed on the public holidays; Monday 4 June and Tuesday 5 June.

From 9am on Wednesday 6 June we will be open again as...

Over the past year we have answered over 13,000 calls on our Helpline

Although three quarters of people who phoned us called about themselves we also heard from others, including family members (12%) and...

At Breast Cancer Care we’re passionate about supporting nurses in the great job they do – caring for people who’ve been given the devastating news that they have breast cancer. 

With their specialist knowledge of primary and secondary breast cancer, we know breast care nurses can...

We would like to apologise for the disruption caused over the last few days to the online community. Earlier this week, we relaunched the Breast Cancer Care discussion forum on our new website but unfortunately, we have experienced a number of technical difficulties since then.

We want to...

The Helpline will be closed on Monday 7th May for the bank holiday and reopens at 9am Tuesday 8th May when we resume our normal hours.

As of 5 May 2012, we’re going to be opening the Helpline...

This is a topic that is often discussed on the helpline. When hair starts to grow back after chemotherapy, it may have lost its original colour or have turned grey which can have a huge impact on confidence and self-esteem. So, for many women who regularly colour their hair, it can be very...

In January the Helpline answered 1,136 calls and 1,157 in February, plus we have already responded to 198 email enquiries. 

During February 12% of calls to the Helpline were about side effects of treatment and 19% of emails were about breast awareness; these were the top topics for...

Most of us are familiar with the three main risk factors for developing breast cancer: being female, increasing age and a significant family history. But, as we keep hearing in the news, an increasing number of other risk factors are being identified. People living longer is one of them (we know...

Being diagnosed with breast cancer during pregnancy is luckily not common, but it can happen. This can be very difficult as you may be dealing with the joy of having a baby while getting the news about a potential life threatening illness.

There may be difficult decisions to be made and...

During 2011 our free and confidential Helpline answered 13,399 calls; 2.5% more calls were answered than in 2010.

Nearly 56% of our callers were aged between 40 and 69 years old, with 52% of email enquiries coming from that age group. 

The top five reasons why callers phone...

We get a number of calls on the helpline from people taking aromatase inhibitors (AIs) such as letrozole, arimidex or exemestane as part of their treatment for breast cancer who are worried about their risk of osteoporosis asking what they can do about it.

Osteoporosis means ‘porous bones...

In January each year we send out a postal survey to everyone who calls the Helpline so please don’t be surprised if you get asked to participate if you ring in the next few weeks.

We’ve made the survey shorter this year, so it shouldn’t take you long to complete. We send you a freepost...

In this technological age we live in, we need to contact many different organisations in our daily lives – phone companies, banks, GP practices, hospitals. And often when you phone an organisation, you never quite know who is going to be on the other end of the line or whether they will need to...

During November our nurses and trained staff with experience of breast cancer answered 1,171 calls. We also saw a continued rise in the number of Ask the Nurse queries submitted via our website.  

Sorry to anyone...

We're pleased to say that the technical difficulty we had with our phones has now been fixed and our Helpline is fully functional.

Please see our ...

We’re still working to resolve the technical fault from yesterday which is affecting the Helpline phone lines.

This morning we have a limited service on the Helpline but there is no messaging. So if you can’t get through then please try again later in the day when we hope the fault will...

We’re very sorry but we are experiencing a technical fault with our phone system this morning which means the Helpline is unavailable at the moment. We’re trying to resolve this problem as soon as possible.

Please try the Helpline again later today when we hope to be open.

In the...

Each year we conduct a survey to find out what callers think about the Helpline service. This year 241 users responded and we carried out 10 telephone interviews. Here are a few of the highlights from the survey.

How...

October was a busy month for our Helpline team with 1,271 calls answered by our nurses and trained staff with experience of breast cancer.

People from all age groups use our Helpline; the largest group of callers during October was those aged between 50 and 59 years old, they accounted...

It’s the time of year when flu jabs are being offered by GP surgeries. We get many calls on the Helpline from people who are concerned about having a flu jab in their ‘arm at risk’ after breast surgery or questioning whether they can have the jab whilst they are undergoing chemotherapy.

...

During October calls to our Helpline rise by around 30%. Many of these callers have seen coverage in the press and want to know more about how to be ...

Although we do a considerable amount of work raising the breast awareness and early detection message throughout the year, the workshops delivered by the Breast Health Promotion (BHP) team are in greatest demand during...

When the shock of a breast cancer diagnosis affects a family, one of the most difficult things to do is tell other members of the family, especially the children.

On the Helpline, we are often asked about the best way to...

A new search category, specialist clinics, will be launched on our map of breast cancer services next week (Monday 26 September).

The map of services is an interactive tool, designed to...

I'm delighted to welcome you to our new Helpline blog.

The Helpline was one of Breast Cancer Care’s first services and it was set up back in the early 1970s. When our founder Betty Westgate was discharged without any...

Quite a large proportion of our Helpline calls are from people who are worried that they might have breast cancer. Often they might have noticed a symptom but are not sure if they should bother their doctor about it.

We...

It’s that time of year when we start to think about going on holiday and flying off to some sunshine.

Last year we had a number of enquires to our Helpline and...

Due to the forthcoming Bank Holiday weekend, our  Helpline and Ask the Nurse email service will be operating under revised opening hours. Take a look...