'Thank you once again for looking after me and my family. I have been reassured that I am in the safest of hands and the most skilled! I feel I am on the road to recovery now. You have a fantastic team, and you have all made this unexpected journey bearable.'
If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, then we will take time to discuss your treatment options with you. We stress that these decisions are not rushed at a time of great concern. Making the right choice for you is very important.
Helping you to make the right choice for you is our dedicated private breast care specialist nurse (Helen Rankin), who is usually present at every clinic. She will be able to provide you with further support and advice about treatment options, as well as written information. Apart form being there at every clinic, she is able to see patients separately and have a telephone service available too. We are very pleased to be able to offer this service, as the vast majority of private hospitals in the UK do not have their own specialist breast care nurses, but instead rely on ad hoc help from local NHS specialist nurses.
Surgery will be an integral part of your care, but other treatments such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy, herceptin and hormone tablets may be needed too. Our patients can also access the latest appropriate drugs for their treatment and can be offered entry into relevant clinical trials, if she/he wishes. We have had several years experience of using the new Oncotype DX breast cancer genetic test and helped introduce this across the Nuffield Health group of hospitals.
Every week, we have a dedicated private Multi-Disciplinary Team Meeting (MDT) at the Nuffield Hospital in Cheltenham, where we discuss the results of all our patients, who have required needle tests, as well as all our cancer patients. Our MDT includes expert consultant pathologists, oncologists, radiologist and plastic surgeon as well as the consultant breast surgeons and breast care nurses.This means that all of our patients can be reassured that they have care tailored to their own needs and circumstances. Patients and families requiring psychological support to help them through their journey can be referred to our colleagues, led by Samantha Lindley, a Clinical Psychologist with many years of experience in helping people with breast cancer.
In Cheltenham, about 75% of women end up having the cancer removed safely by lumpectomy alone. Only about 25% of women require a mastectomy. If you need a mastectomy, then breast reconstruction will always be discussed with you and offered to you, if appropriate, by our surgeons. At our unit in Gloucestershire, about 40% of our women choose to have a reconstruction after mastectomy.
In some cases, lumpectomy surgery can be performed in conjunction with re-shaping of the affected breast to provide a better cosmetic result and reduce the problems associated with radiotherapy given to women with large breasts. This procedure is called a 'therapeutic mammoplasty'. Matching surgery to the other normal breast can also be performed, usually at the same time.
Your surgeons will also discuss surgery to the lymph glands in your armpit (axilla) to check for spread of the cancer to the glands. Recently there have been many articles about a new technique called 'sentinel node biopsy', which is a much less invasive operation. Our surgeons have used this technique since 1998 and offer it routinely to patients with breast cancer.
Sample photographs of our patients
Therapeutic mammoplasty - right breast cancer - lumpectomy with reshaping of the breast
Simple mastectomy - right breast cancer
Simple mastectomy followed by implant only reconstruction
Left mastectomy and Latissimus Dorsi flap reconstruction
Also known as the back flap reconstruction - please note the scar on the back in the second image
Male breast cancer - please note how the left nipple has changed
Please note: These patients have given written consent for the publication of these photos