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Ten things you might not know about breast cancer

Ten things you might not know about breast cancer


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month so I thought I would share with you some things you may not know about breast cancer.

The theme for this year’s awareness month is educating everyone about primary of course, but most importantly secondary breast cancer and to highlight the work that’s being done in this area of research.

I work with breast cancer patients day in and day out in my professional life and I am humbled by the strength and resilience of my patients, and also of my team in dealing with breast cancer on a daily basis.

I have devoted my life to this mission of curing cancer and I will keep on keeping on. I have seen “the miracle” of cancers melting away with precision medicine, but I have also seen the sorrow and horror these cancers cause. My team and I are committed to seeing far more of the former than the latter. The journey has been long, but we have made and keep making significant and remarkable progress every year.

Around 61,000 people currently have secondary breast cancer (when cancer comes back) and although we can treat it better than ever before, there is no cure for it. Nowadays, however, metastatic breast cancer is becoming a chronic condition rather than a terminal one – such as diabetes for example.

Throughout this month you will see much fundraising around breast cancer and some will be geared towards funding projects purely around secondary breast cancer. Currently, there are projects underway to develop new drugs to help patients where breast cancer has moved to other organs and bones, and others to find out why breast cancer cells move to the brain.

To mark this month of awareness, here are ten things I share often when I give professional talks about cancer in general and breast cancer in particular:

  • One in two of us will now get cancer in our lifetime.
  • Across cancer our cure rate is about 50 per cent, it was 25 per cent in the 1970s and we are aiming for 75 per cent by 2034. 
  • Breast Cancer is the commonest cancer in women (1 in 7) yet it is also the most curable (cure rate 80 per cent).
  • Men can also get breast cancer though it is rarer.
  • 4 to 20 per cent of breast cancers can be genetic.
  • 40 per cent of breast cancers can be prevented by not smoking, drinking less alcohol, and having a healthy weight(not overweight mainly).
  • Stress is a recognised factor in cancer – chronic stress can increase your risk of cancer so find time every day to de-stress in your way. You can take a daily walk, read a book, put your feet up, or do a yoga class. Do something for you which takes you away from any daily stress.
  • The best cure for cancer lies within you. In your T-cells. These are white blood cells which fight germs and they form part of your immune system. They are the most effective killing machine within our own bodies against cancer. They are at the cutting edge of immunotherapy.
  • T-cells need our help. They need support to travel effectively around the body in the bloodstream to get to our organs. They can be less effective if you do not pay attention to your body through what you eat, drink, weigh or feel.
  • We cure high-risk cancers with clever medicine before patients get to surgery and we continue to work tirelessly to make our treatments less toxic and more effective at the same time and by enhancing the body’s natural defences.

While my day job is as an NHS consultant, I am also a professional and educational speaker on this subject and I make sure I keep up to date with the latest research and developments in my field.

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