OCTOBER is Breast Cancer Awareness month. As part of this, islanders are being advised to be breast aware and attend screening appointments – around 50 local women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.

The breast unit, which is based at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital, sees patients who have been referred for screening and those who have a lump or breast pain.

Clinical nurse specialist in breast care Sharon Bodkin started at the unit in January 2008. ‘It is hugely important for women to check themselves because the sooner they find something, the more effective treatment can be and essentially the better the outcome. ‘I think the message is out there and people are quite good at being breast aware, but women still need to check themselves and become familiar with how their breasts look and feel normally at different times of the month.’

Guernsey screens women for breast cancer every two years, compared with every three in the UK. This decision was taken because research has suggested two years was the best screening interval and led to a reduction in mortality rates.

Treatment is decided by the multidisciplinary team and could include surgery and chemotherapy treatment, which can be carried out locally. ‘One of the most significant improvements, I think, is the surgeon we have that comes across 10 times a year to the clinic to perform reconstructive surgery on some of the women. ‘Previously they would have had to go over to the UK to get it done, so this is something which is not only great for the unit but for islanders too.’

Guernsey Globe article by Nicola Gibbons 26/10/2011

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