Dr Penny Kechagioglou
Chief Medical Officer
Surgical Clinical Director
Clinical Director, Breast Oncology
Having the time and expertise to care for people with breast cancer goes a long way to delivering the very best patient outcomes.
Using the newest technocology and personalising the diagnotsitc pathway, can increase the probability of cancer detection between 3-15%. “One in every 6 women diagnosed today with breast cancer could be accessing more innovatitive cancer care which could save their life. Wouldn’t you want to be that women?” says Dr Penny Kechagioglou, Chief Medical Officer at GenesisCare.
Founded to provide better, faster access to quality cancer care GenesisCare are investing in the latest diagnostic technology (tomosynthesis, automated breast ultrasound, breast MRI) and adopting individualised diagnostic protocols to increase accuracy of diagnostic tests, positioning itself right at the forefront of technologies and procedures to treat cancer, and in a personalised way. With appointments at evenings, GenesisCare makes access to specialist care as easy and as fast as possible, which is the most important thing to do if you are worried about your breast health. Dr Kechagioglou says: “Two weeks for a referral is a long time to wait. Any woman in this situation would want to see someone straight away.”
One in seven women will be diagnosed with breast cancer
Around one in seven women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, making it one of the most common types of cancer in the UK. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over 50, but do not have a family history or genes (minority of women have familial breast cancer), factors such as a sedentary lifestyle and excessive weight are reducing the age at which breast cancer is seen. Routine NHS breast cancer screening – mammography – is currently offered only to women aged over 50 years.
What to look for when checking for breast cancer
Dr Kechagioglou urges all women to examine their breasts regularly and report any symptoms. Checks should include palpation of the breast and under-arm areas for lumps and bumps, as well as a visual check for any changes in the shape of the breast or nipple. Red-flag signs include unusual breast asymmetry, dimpling of the breast skin, nipple discharge, crusting or inversion. “Around once or twice a month is enough,” says Dr Kechagioglou who advises doing your check in a warm shower about three to five days after your period starts. If you have gone through menopause do your exam on the same day every month.
Treatment is far less invasive these days
Rapidly advancing technology can support women (and the few men that also develop breast cancer) at all stages of their breast cancer journey, from more accurate screening (mammograms) to fine-needle biopsy (sampling of the suspect tissue) and treatment.
According to Dr Eliot Sims, Consultant Clinical Oncologist and Breast Reference Group clinical Director at GenesisCare, over the past 25 years breast cancer survival rates at five years have risen from 50% to 80%. Treatment is now as least invasive as possible, with drug therapy used where possible, to surgery focused on breast conservation and aesthetics.
Reduced toxicity from radiotherapy
Compared to 50 years ago, very few women now lose a breast, and good oncology and plastic surgery now go ‘hand-in-hand’, says Simon Smith, Consultant Oncoplastic Surgeon and advisor to GenesisCare. What’s more, advances in radiotherapy have reduced the toxicity and duration of treatment, as well as the use of tell-tale treatment procedures such as tattooing.
Greater understanding of the genetics of cancer has also significantly reduced the use of chemotherapy while exercise, nutrition and mindfulness programmes – services which are all part of the GenesisCare offering – offer support that physically and mentally equips people to better manage treatment side effects, such as fatigue, and to improve their prognosis.
Developments such as these put specialists with the time and expertise to care for people with breast cancer in a great position to deliver the very best patient outcomes. Mr Smith says: “Breast cancer is unique among cancers in that it benefits from a huge amount of public interest, it is well funded and researched. The next step is for the clinical team to focus on having honest conversations with patients about the options available to them, and for us to be able to give real consideration to what the patient wants from their treatment.”