Genevieve runs Stalwart Wellness in ‘Tenterden…

What are the side effects of breast cancer treatment and surgery? Breast cancer treatment is often followed by a decline in upper body function. Up to 50% of our patients suffer from symptoms after surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. These can include bodily problems like impaired shoulder mobility, muscle weakness, severe arm pain, lymphedema and cording, which is the development of fibrous scar tissue after lymph nodes have been removed. Other side effects can range from fatigue and nausea to lowered self esteem and anxiety.

What happens in one of your workshops? The pain and dysfunction associated with breast cancer therapies is a consequence of restrictions in connective tissue. As a result, our approach is to focus on mobilising these restrictions by using gentle, non-invasive techniques that often produce dramatic, life-changing results. Breast cancer recovery is a very sensitive time. A time to be respected for the hard-won healing that is taking place, as well as the physical and emotional complexities that are encountered. People recovering from breast cancer face many challenges, not only in getting strength and energy back, but in many cases, regaining self-confidence and learning to trust the body once more. Specialist Pilates rehabilitation equipment can be used to improve movement in joints, work the abdominal muscles, improve balance and stability and build strength and endurance. With the use of Thera-Bands, weights, yoga postures and breathing techniques, a high quality of life can be restored.

What are the benefits and results that your clients have had? Clients will often regain function in their upper bodies, sometimes after months or even years of impaired movement. Recent studies show a direct link between moderate physical exercise and an improved quality of life for breast cancer survivors. Along with direct strength and mobility improvements in the shoulders and arms, the core muscles in the abdomen and back can be retrained and stabilised. Self-confidence and a positive body image come naturally once posture and biomechanics are restored. Increased energy levels and decreased stress and tension mean clients develop the confidence to practise at home and take part in everyday activities.

Genevieve is fully qualified and experienced in Cancer Rehabilitation. Working closely with Macmillan Cancer means she can help clients before, during and after treatments. Being fluent in English, German and French gives her the ability to work with a huge range of clients. To get in contact visit stalwartwellness.co.uk or call 07779 670502.

Spire in Tunbridge Wells give us an insight into the options…

What do you offer as part of a One Stop consultation? The One Stop Breast Clinic is consultant led. Whether you need a breast check or diagnosis of any symptoms, results are discussed by consultants, radiologists, pathologists, breast care nurses and oncologists. Within the clinic, patients have access to the diagnostics they need including consultation, mammogram, ultrasound and a biopsy if required, and all of our patients have access to the latest advances in digital mammography. 3D digital breast tomosynthesis has proven to increase detection of breast cancer by 25% and has the capabilities of identifying smaller cancers which can be easily missed. Running the One Stop Breast Clinic means that patients can walk away feeling informed of their health from just one appointment.

What are the surgical options? The most common benign breast lump is called a fibroadenoma, which can be removed radiologically under local anaesthetic. If this is larger or cancerous, then surgery will be required. If the cancerous tumour is particularly large, then chemotherapy or hormone blocking tablets can aid in reducing the size, making surgery possible. If a patient has significantly large breasts, there is an option for therapeutic mammoplasty. This involves the removal of the tumour alongside breast reshaping, often giving a desirable cosmetic result. Axilla, or armpit surgery is also necessary to evaluate the guardian node, or sentinel node, to ensure the disease hasn’t spread into the lymph nodes. This is done through a micro-bubble test which detects any spreading. Some patients may require a mastectomy, in which case they’re given the option of immediate or delayed breast reconstruction. This can be carried out with either an implant and mesh, or the patient’s own tissue.

Can you talk us through a mammogram consultation? The surgeon would begin by explaining the rationale for a mammogram, along with the potential risks involved. Typically, two different views are taken of both breasts, but with the addition of tomosynthesis one can obtain three dimensional pictures, thus improving its sensitivity and the diagnostic accuracy. During the tomosynthesis exam, breasts are placed under compression while the x-ray arm of the mammography machine makes an arc over the breast, taking a series of images at a number of angles. This will only take a few seconds and all of the images are viewed by the mammographer to ensure adequate images have been captured for review by a specialist radiologist.

Spire Tunbridge Wells Hospital offers a comprehensive range of services and facilities in a comfortable and relaxed environment to patients in Kent and surrounding areas. for further information on the treatments provided visit spirehealthcare.com/tunbridgewells or call 01892 740047.

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