Q - If I’ve had cancer in my breast, am I more likely to get any other cancers? A - Generally there is no evidence to suggest so after completion of treatment. Q - When I go for check-ups there are no blood tests or scans, how do you know I haven’t got cancer anywhere else?  A - Research has shown that doing blood tests and scans does not pick up problems any sooner, but do raise anxiety levels unnecessarily. Mammograms have been found to be helpful but that is all. Q - I’ve heard that you have to have reconstructive implants replaced after a while, is that true? A - It depends on the type of implants used and the bodies response to them. Q - If I have a grade 2 tumour, what exactly does that mean? A - Breast tumours are graded 1 – 3, three being the most aggressive when viewed down the microscope. Q - We often hear the term "being in remission" what does that mean? A - This is not generally a term used in the field of breast cancer. We use the term "disease free interval" which hopefully means for life! Q - Because Tamoxifen is a hormonal control drug, and I have taken it for 5 years, will there be any side effects when I stop taking it? A - Hopefully not – in fact people can feel better if they have had menopausal like symptoms whilst on it. Q - How soon can I use deodorant after breast surgery? A - If axilla surgery has taken place, wait a month or so. Q - Now that my hair is growing back after Chemotherapy treatment, I also seem to be growing some light fluffy facial hair on the side of my face; it has become so obvious to me that I’ve felt I had to trim it. Is this normal? A - Don’t worry this is normal, and often happens with chemotherapy/hormonal treatments, but it almost always resolves itself after treatment. Some of our group have suffered this and like you were worried but are fine now. Q - It has been 9 months since I finished my treatment, having had a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and I still find I have no real energy. I am also taking the drug Arimidex. Will I ever get back to normal? A - Almost everyone regains their levels of energy, but every treatment carries a "fatigue factor" and this can be a cumulative problem which may take months to resolve. It does not mean that there is anything wrong. Q - I appear to be going through the menopause, and have had breast cancer and have heard that taking HRT would not be a good idea. Is there anything else on the market? A - Many breast cancers are driven by hormones in which case HRT is really not advisable. Talk to your Breast Care Nurse or doctor about menopausal symptoms. A range of herbal, medicinal remedies/complementary therapies are worth exploring. Q - When I had breast cancer surgery a mastectomy was recommended and reconstruction offered, but I didn’t want that, I just wanted to get rid of the cancer. At first I was just glad to be over the trauma and accepted my "flat chest" on one side, but now 5 years down the line I wished I’d had reconstructive surgery. Would that still be possible? A - Yes, it could be considered. Have a discussion with your breast care nurse or surgeon. (Also see booklet from Breast Cancer Care) Q - I’ve had a lumpectomy, which has left me feeling a bit "lop-sided". I know that there are prosthesis available to those who have had a mastectomy, but what about people like me? A - It may well be possible to gain symmetry, talk to your breast care nurse or appliance fitter. Q - I’m young and had had a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, which I am very happy with. I still feel I can where skimpy tops without feeling different, but when I take off my clothes and look into the mirror I am reminded of what I’ve had done, as I have no nipple on that side. Is there anything available that would make me look more normal? A - There are prosthetic nipples which stick on. Many surgeons will reconstruct a nipple, a simple procedure. Q - Most of the women who suffer from breast cancer seem to be in the "over 50’s" age group. I find the local support group very useful and supportive but there are issues that I feel only apply to me as I am somewhat younger. Is there anything out there aimed at my age group? A - Yes. Breast Cancer Care produces literature and has telephone helplines. Also your Breast care nurse may run a group for younger women or introduce you to another or other patients of similar age.

Intimate FAQ’s (Questions you always wanted to ask, but were not brave enough.)

Q - I am in my early 50’s, I had my surgery, chemo and radiotherapy treatment 6 years ago, I took Tamoxifen for 5 yrs and have been off it for 1 year now and have not had a period since my surgery. Does this mean that the treatment has taken me through the menopause and that I no longer need to take precautions whilst having sex? A - It is possible to conceive up to two years after the last period. If in doubt a blood test can clarify menopausal status. No treatments for breast cancer should be regarded as contraceptive in their action’ Q - During my breast cancer treatment (chemo, radiotherapy etc) I felt unable to cope with a sexual relationship, but now a year on, I still find this difficult as I find sexual intercourse painful. I am only in my 30’s and feel this could cause a problem in my relationship with my partner. A - Problems with libido can result from treatments for breast cancer or from the huge emotional upheaval which can take place. Usually these difficulties can be overcome. Talk to your breast cancer nurse who will advise you or put you in contact with other agencies who can help. Q - After treatment for my breast cancer I found that I am suffering from vaginal dryness, making intimate relationships difficult. I have read about various products on the market, but some of them say that they are hormonal, are these OK to use? A - Yes, most doctors/oncologists are happy with the use of a local lubricant even if it contains low grade hormonal content. You can check with your pharmacist or breast care nurse if you are unsure. Q - I have suffered from vaginal dryness since my treatment for breast cancer. Just recently my husband and I had sex and I found that I bled a little immediately afterwards. I panicked, the bleeding did not continue; will this happen every time we attempt sexual intercourse? Do I need to worry? A - Do not worry. Do check that the bleeding is in fact associated with intercourse only, especially if taking Tamoxifen, in which case advice from your GP should be sought. Usually with lubrication this will settle, tissues around the vagina can get dry and tense as a result of treatments, however, should it persist ask for advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

We hope you will find these FAQ’s helpful, but try contacting any of the following for further help. Breast Cancer Care or Macmillan – who have helplines and literature on almost everything. Breast Care Nurse, Breast Surgeon, GP or Community nurses. See also Helping Someone with Breast Cancer
Hastings and Bexhill Area Breast Cancer Support Group

Frequently Asked Questions

We hope you will find these FAQ’s helpful, but try contacting any of the following for further help. Breast Cancer Care – who have helplines and literature on almost everything. Breast Care Nurse, Breast Surgeon, GP or Community nurses. See also Helping Someone with Breast Cancer.
Q - If I’ve had cancer in my breast, am I more likely to get any other cancers? A - Generally there is no evidence to suggest so after completion of treatment. Q - When I go for check-ups there are no blood tests or scans, how do you know I haven’t got cancer anywhere else?  A - Research has shown that doing blood tests and scans does not pick up problems any sooner, but do raise anxiety levels unnecessarily. Mammograms have been found to be helpful but that is all. Q - I’ve heard that you have to have reconstructive implants replaced after a while, is that true? A - It depends on the type of implants used and the bodies response to them. Q - If I have a grade 2 tumour, what exactly does that mean? A - Breast tumours are graded 1 – 3, three being the most aggressive when viewed down the microscope. Q - We often hear the term "being in remission" what does that mean? A - This is not generally a term used in the field of breast cancer. We use the term "disease free interval" which hopefully means for life! Q - Because Tamoxifen is a hormonal control drug, and I have taken it for 5 years, will there be any side effects when I stop taking it? A - Hopefully not – in fact people can feel better if they have had menopausal like symptoms whilst on it. Q - How soon can I use deodorant after breast surgery? A - If axilla surgery has taken place, wait a month or so. Q - Now that my hair is growing back after Chemotherapy treatment, I also seem to be growing some light fluffy facial hair on the side of my face; it has become so obvious to me that I’ve felt I had to trim it. Is this normal? A - Don’t worry this is normal, and often happens with chemotherapy/hormonal treatments, but it almost always resolves itself after treatment. Some of our group have suffered this and like you were worried but are fine now. Q - It has been 9 months since I finished my treatment, having had a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and I still find I have no real energy. I am also taking the drug Arimidex. Will I ever get back to normal? A - Almost everyone regains their levels of energy, but every treatment carries a "fatigue factor" and this can be a cumulative problem which may take months to resolve. It does not mean that there is anything wrong. Q - I appear to be going through the menopause, and have had breast cancer and have heard that taking HRT would not be a good idea. Is there anything else on the market? A - Many breast cancers are driven by hormones in which case HRT is really not advisable. Talk to your Breast Care Nurse or doctor about menopausal symptoms. A range of herbal, medicinal remedies/complementary therapies are worth exploring. Q - When I had breast cancer surgery a mastectomy was recommended and reconstruction offered, but I didn’t want that, I just wanted to get rid of the cancer. At first I was just glad to be over the trauma and accepted my "flat chest" on one side, but now 5 years down the line I wished I’d had reconstructive surgery. Would that still be possible? A - Yes, it could be considered. Have a discussion with your breast care nurse or surgeon. (Also see booklet from Breast Cancer Care) Q - I’ve had a lumpectomy, which has left me feeling a bit "lop-sided". I know that there are prosthesis available to those who have had a mastectomy, but what about people like me? A - It may well be possible to gain symmetry, talk to your breast care nurse or appliance fitter. Q - I’m young and had had a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, which I am very happy with. I still feel I can where skimpy tops without feeling different, but when I take off my clothes and look into the mirror I am reminded of what I’ve had done, as I have no nipple on that side. Is there anything available that would make me look more normal? A - There are prosthetic nipples which stick on. Many surgeons will reconstruct a nipple, a simple procedure. Q - Most of the women who suffer from breast cancer seem to be in the "over 50’s" age group. I find the local support group very useful and supportive but there are issues that I feel only apply to me as I am somewhat younger. Is there anything out there aimed at my age group? A - Yes. Breast Cancer Care produces literature and has telephone helplines. Also your Breast care nurse may run a group for younger women or introduce you to another or other patients of similar age.

Intimate FAQ’s (Questions you always

wanted to ask, but were not brave enough.)

Q - I am in my early 50’s, I had my surgery, chemo and radiotherapy treatment 6 years ago, I took Tamoxifen for 5 yrs and have been off it for 1 year now and have not had a period since my surgery. Does this mean that the treatment has taken me through the menopause and that I no longer need to take precautions whilst having sex? A - It is possible to conceive up to two years after the last period. If in doubt a blood test can clarify menopausal status. No treatments for breast cancer should be regarded as contraceptive in their action’ Q - During my breast cancer treatment (chemo, radiotherapy etc) I felt unable to cope with a sexual relationship, but now a year on, I still find this difficult as I find sexual intercourse painful. I am only in my 30’s and feel this could cause a problem in my relationship with my partner. A - Problems with libido can result from treatments for breast cancer or from the huge emotional upheaval which can take place. Usually these difficulties can be overcome. Talk to your breast cancer nurse who will advise you or put you in contact with other agencies who can help. Q - After treatment for my breast cancer I found that I am suffering from vaginal dryness, making intimate relationships difficult. I have read about various products on the market, but some of them say that they are hormonal, are these OK to use? A - Yes, most doctors/oncologists are happy with the use of a local lubricant even if it contains low grade hormonal content. You can check with your pharmacist or breast care nurse if you are unsure. Q - I have suffered from vaginal dryness since my treatment for breast cancer. Just recently my husband and I had sex and I found that I bled a little immediately afterwards. I panicked, the bleeding did not continue; will this happen every time we attempt sexual intercourse? Do I need to worry? A - Do not worry. Do check that the bleeding is in fact associated with intercourse only, especially if taking Tamoxifen, in which case advice from your GP should be sought. Usually with lubrication this will settle, tissues around
Hastings and Bexhill Area Breast Cancer Support Group