Breast screening and self-checks make all the difference

We recently sat down with Laura Heraghty, a Senior Macmillan nurse based at the Nightingale Centre in Manchester, UK, who told us why screening and self-checks make all the difference.

Laura is a key member of the breast care team at the Nightingale Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital. In our time together, we asked Laura about why breast screening and self-checks are important.

LH: “At the Nightingale Centre we manage the breast screening unit. We send out the vans and invite women aged 47 to 72 to have a breast check every three years. If we find the cancer before a woman does it is likely to need less invasive treatment. Cancer found earlier is often smaller.”

Laura told us why breast awareness is important too.

LH: “We would encourage every woman to be breast aware. Self-checks are important and we recommend that women check themselves once a month. If you find a lump or believe that there has been a change in your breast, you should get it checked out at your GP. Often, they will review you to a specialist breast clinic, like the Nightingale, where we can check the lump. Don’t forget that most lumps will be benign.”

Laura told us of the benefits but also challenges of early detection of breast cancer.

LH: “Early detection of breast cancer improves the outcomes for patients. Yet, it comes with a challenge: early stage cancer tumours can be very small and difficult to locate. At the Nightingale Centre we use modern technology to help us local these small tumours.

We use Magseed® which is a tiny magnetic marker. It is a medical grade stainless steel device that can pinpoint a tumour. This allows the surgeon to ensure it is completely removed in one surgery. The Magseed® marker remains in place regardless of what the patient does. This means insertion of the Magseed® marker can be up to a week before the surgery.”

Asked to sum up her points in one key message this is what Laura told us.

LH: “Remember it is important to be breast aware. As well as attending regular breast screenings.”

Want to know how to perform a thorough breast self-exam?

Hear from Dr Peled and Dr DiPasquale as they share their top hints and tricks.