Every woman worries when she finds a lump in the breast. But in fact the vast majority of breast lumps are not cancerous. The younger you are, the more likely the lump is benign, but a careful assessment is always needed to be sure. Mr Stephenson performs what is known as triple assessment of breast lumps, which means that firstly they are throughly examined, secondly they are imaged using an ultrasound +/- mammogram, and thirdly, where necessary a biopsy is taken.
Breast lumps are a cause of great anxiety for women and Mr Stephenson usually offers a private appointment within 12-24 hours of receiving a GP referral (provided he is on island). That way we can quickly get the diagnosis and either give you the reassurance you need or organise a strategy to deal with whatever we find.
Unfortunately breast cancer is very common, affecting about 1 in 8 women (about 1% of breast cancer patients are men). There are about 90 – 100 new breast cancers each year in Jersey alone. Being diagnosed with breast cancer can be a hugely traumatic time for women, however we aim to make each patient’s journey as painless and patient focussed as possible. All patients have access to a specialist breast care nurse and are cared for by a Multi Disciplinary Team of experts.
More available on this soon.
Many women are concerned about their risk of breast cancer because one or more of their relatives are affected by breast cancer. Contrary to popular perception, only 5-10% of breast cancers are caused by an inherited genetic mutation. Deciding who might benefit from having a genetic test for an inherited mutation is a complex decision and Jersey has a contract with the Guys Genetics Unit who are specialists in this area. If you would like an initial consultation with Mr Stephenson to discuss possible family history risk, this can be arranged, but do be aware that most insurers will not cover this.
When a cancer develops within the breast, there is a risk that it will spread, and the first place it tends to go is the lymph nodes (glands) in the armpit. Historically, all patients had to have all of their lymph nodes removed but only a quarter of them ever had cancer within them, meaning three quarters of patients were being over treated. Nowadays, we inject some blue dye into the breast during the same operation to remove the cancer in the breast. The dye will travel to the closest lymph node(s) to the breast and make it go blue and easily recognisable during the operation. The dye will travel to the same lymph node that any cancer cells would have travelled to, so checking to see if these lymph nodes have cancer in them, allows us to tell whether it would be sensible to remove all the rest of the lymph nodes. This procedure is called a sentinel node biopsy. If we have confirmed that there is cancer in the lymph nodes, the operation we perform is an axillary node clearance.