Five minute breast cancer jab to be rolled out – the 7 signs to watch forApril 5, 2021
A NEW breast cancer treatment that takes just five minutes is being rolled out across England, the NHS has revealed.
Thousands of patients undergoing chemotherapy will benefit from the injection which will cut the time they spend in hospital from two-and-a-half hours to just five minutes.
The new treatment has been branded as "lifesaving" by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and experts say the injection is a "kinder treatment method".
The combined treatment called PHESGO is one injection – in comparison to the two transfusion which are currently being rolled out across the health service.
More than 3,600 new patients will have the treatment each year as well as other patients who will switch from their current treatment plan to this one.
It will be offered to patients with HER2-positive breast cancer, which accounts for 15 per cent of all breast cancers, and can be given alongside chemotherapy or on its own.
The treatment is a fixed-dose combination of pertuzumab with trastuzumab that previously would have been given as separate IV infusions.
The jab cuts the risk patients face when going to hospital and will help prevent them from catching Covid-19 in a hospital setting as the amount of time they spend in hospital will be slashed.
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the name given to any cancers that have first developed in the breast tissue – there are many different types.
Nearly 1,000 people die from breast cancer every month in the UK, with the disease killing around 11,500 women and 80 men each year.
However, thanks to advances in medical research and early prevention, more people are surviving breast cancer than ever before.
While it is more common in older women, it does affect the younger generation and men too – with around 20 per cent of cases occurring in females under 50 and 350 male cases diagnosed in the UK annually.
For most women, the first sign or symptom of breast cancer is a lump or area of thickened tissue in their breast.
While 90 per cent of such lumps are not cancerous, it is vital to get them checked by your GP at the earliest opportunity – detecting the disease early can mean treatment is more effective.
It is therefore vitally important to be "breast aware" – know what feels normal for you, and therefore what changes to look out for.
One in three women do not regularly check their breasts, and a fifth of these women say it is because they don't know how to do it.
Because of this, clinicians will also have more time in chemotherapy units.
Mr Hancock said: “This five-minute injection will be lifechanging for cancer patients across the country, allowing them to spend more time away from the hospital and with their loved ones.
“This injection is just another example of the trailblazing cancer treatments the NHS has been developing throughout this pandemic, as the government ensures cancer diagnosis and treatment remains a top priority.”
According to Cancer Research UK around one in seven females in the UK will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.
The coronavirus pandemic has meant that many people have stayed away from their local surgery and in many cases – early detection has been missed.
It was previously reported that over 100,000 patients have missed out on life-saving cancer care because of the pandemic.
It's more important than ever that you know the signs of breast cancer and what to look out for.
Here are the seven key signs:
1. Change in breast size or shape
Breasts come in all shapes and sizes – and can look and feel different throughout a woman's life.
Carolyn Rogers, senior clinical nurse specialist at Breast Cancer Care, told The Sun Online: "They may change at the time of your period, when going through pregnancy as your body ages.
"By checking your breasts regularly, you’ll get to know whether a change in size or shape is part of what’s normal for you, or if it’s something unusual that’s worth getting checked out by your doctor.”
2. Redness or a rash
It is important to look out for signs of reddening or a rash, on the skin and around the nipple.
A rash in this area could just be triggered by new washing powder, or a lacy bra irritating the skin.
"But, if it's an ongoing issue, it could be a sign of something more serious," Carolyn warned.
3. Nipple discharge
If liquid comes from the nipple without squeezing it, it is important to get it checked by a doctor.
"We know from speaking to people on the Breast Cancer Care helpline that this can be a confusing one," said Carolyn.
"But, if it's not normal for you, then mention it to your GP."
4. Swelling in the armpit or around the collarbone
Lumps are the most common sign of breast cancer, but they don't always appear in the breast.
"Breast tissue can be found under the armpits and up to the collarbone, so you may notice an unusual swelling in these areas," explained Carolyn.
As a result, when checking your boobs each month it is important to be thorough and check all around the breast and surrounding area.
5. Change in skin texture
From puckering to the slightest hint of a dimple – changes in the skin's appearance on your breasts can be a sign of cancer.
For example, if it looks and feels like the peel of an orange, go and check it out with your GP.
A recent survey by the charity found one in six women had no idea this could be a sign of the disease.
6. An inverted nipple
Some people naturally have inverted nipples, which is absolutely fine, but everyone's breasts are different.
"If your nipple suddenly starts to be pulled inwards, or changes its shape or position in any way, then it could be a warning sign," explained Carolyn.
7. Constant pain
A dull ache that won't go away in the breast or armpit, is a warning sign for breast cancer.
However, it can be difficult to identify.
"Having pain in the breast area is really common," said Carolyn.
"It could be caused by a number of things, for example changing hormone levels before your period or even a badly fitting bra."
But, if the pain doesn't disappear after a reasonable amount of time, it is worth telling your doctor, she said.
For more information visit Breast Cancer Care.
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