Breast cancer survival rates are going '˜up and up', says Hull specialist

Improvements to breast cancer treatment mean more women are surviving and avoiding major surgery, a consultant oncologist has said.

Hull-based breast cancer specialist Dr Sunil Upadhyay said medical advances mean the majority of women no longer require mastectomies.

Instead, most undergo lumpectomies to remove the tumour or have treatments like chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapy without having breasts removed.

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Speaking at the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Dr Upadhyay, who is based at the Breast Care Unit at Castle Hill Hospital, said survival rates had been improving for the past three decades.

He said: “I’m not just saying we’ve got better at treating breast cancer. We’ve got miles better.

“Since the 1990s, survival rates, not just for five or 10 years but the ‘cured for good’ rate, have been going up and up and up.

“Not only are more women surviving, we’re also providing people with better support before, during and after treatment.”

Medical advances include the ability to harvest women’s eggs and save ovaries to protect younger patients’ chances of motherhood. Hospital staff also use so-called “cold caps” which can reduce hair loss during chemotherapy.

The Breast Care Unit, in Cottingham, is a centre of excellence for oncology and sees around 600 patients each year.

Dr Upadhyay, who has 27 years’ experience, said improvements had also been made to reconstructive breast surgery to reduce the psychological trauma facing women who have to have mastectomies.

He said: “We can now offer immediate breast reconstruction with the help of our plastic surgeons so when the women wake up, they have a reconstructed breast already.

“That is definitely a good thing for the patients and their nearest and dearest but it’s also a good thing for other women with breast cancer to know.”