Ask our expert

At 12.30 today we were joined by a nurse expert to answer your questions on breast awareness after breast cancer. We will leave the answers on the site for you to read in your own time.

Kind Regards
Breast Cancer Care

Hi everyone

Our expert nurse, Helen is now online so if you have any questions either post them here or email <script type=“text/javascript”>eval(unescape(‘%64%6f%63%75%6d%65%6e%74%2e%77%72%69%74%65%28%27%3c%61%20%68%72%65%66%3d%22%6d%61%69%6c%74%6f%3a%6d%6f%64%65%72%61%74%6f%72%40%62%72%65%61%73%74%63%61%6e%63%65%72%63%61%72%65%2e%6f%72%67%2e%75%6b%22%3e%6d%6f%64%65%72%61%74%6f%72%40%62%72%65%61%73%74%63%61%6e%63%65%72%63%61%72%65%2e%6f%72%67%2e%75%6b%3c%2f%61%3e%27%29%3b’))</script>.

Best wishes



Breast Cancer Care

We have had a question emailed from Gail which I will ask Helen to answer

In 2005 I had a mastectomy and all the lymph nodes taken out. I haven’t seen my breast surgeon for about a year now, and I am really scared about having a mammogram on the other side- but what tests can they do on the side I had the mastectomy please
Many thanks

Hi Gail

Thanks for your question

As the breast tissue has been removed by the mastectomy, there is no breast tissue for a mammogram to be performed. What is important is to remain breast aware; looking and feeling the healthy breast and the area around the mastectomy. On the mastectomy side it is important to feel along the scar line as well as up into the armpit and around the collar bone. You need to be looking and feeling to make sure everything remains the same; however you need to be aware of any changes in the skin colour and texture; any changes to the feel of the breast, for example a lump or hardened area. If you notice anything you are worried about you need to see your GP who will be able to examine the area and give you further advice.
Many women feel anxious about follow up appointments and mammograms as they fear the cancer coming back. You may find support in talking to others experiencing similar feelings to yourself and you can do this on Breast Cancer Care’s discussion forums and weekly live chat sessions, you can find out more about these by clicking on the link below


Joan has emailed us this question

What a good topic to discuss during breast awareness month. Breast Awareness is always aimed at those who haven’t had breast cancer. Breast awareness just isn’t talked about after diagnosis. What should I be looking for? I had a lump removed with a clear margin of tissue in 2000 and 6 lymph glands taken from under my arm. I am always scared of feeling around in case I find something again. I have stopped having periods so when is best to check my breasts?


I am really surprised to hear Helen recommend going to the GP with what are clearly breast problems post surgery. We hear time and time again of women who take this route only to be told by their GPs there is nothing wrong when there patently is reason for concern, and crucial time is lost whilst the disease spreads and becomes a more serious issue. In the hospital I attend we are encouraged to contact the breast clinic if we have such concerns. Is this not general practice throughout the country?


This has been posted by Julie


Hope doing this in right way. 2 questions please. Had GCSF injection after last chemo, Injection on 2nd October, It says to look out for pain in the left shoulder, yesterday my left shoulder was in a lot of pain, going from shoulder blade/neck and left shoulder, I contacted hospital but person I spoke to didn’t seem to know that much and just said to take temperature and if ok to take pain killers, which I have done, This morning it is a bit better, but don’t know what to do if gets worse. Felt quite useless last night as could seem for find anyone who knows anything to ask on a Sunday evening. Girls on posts were great support though.

Other thing, read in Independent they have identified 6 types of breast cancer and there supposed prognosis. How do you get to know which is yours etc, and are there more up to day stats, as surely now with herseptin being used, which wasn’t taken into account by the independent.

Sorry but also is there anywhere reliable we can search for new updates on treatment. stats, causes etc instead of frightening ourselves on some dubious sites.

One last thing, if you have mastectomy and other breast increased (implant) in size at the same time, then does this impede you being able to feel any lumps etc.

Any advice would be so, so appreciated.

With Thanks


Reply to Joan from Helen, our expert nurse

Thank you for your positive words about this topic Joan. Following treatment for breast cancer it is important to remain breast aware. Your breast will look and feel different following treatment therefore it is important to get to know how both your breasts look and feel now. There is no set time or specific way to do this, however some women find it more convenient to do it when they are washing or dressing. If you notice anything that does not look or feel normal for you go and see your GP who will be able to examine your breasts and either give you reassurance that everything is alright or refer you to the breast unit if that is what is needed.
Many women feel anxious about being breast aware in case they find something, but breast awareness is not about searching for a change it is a way of checking that your breasts look and feel the same.
Breast Cancer Care’s Breast Awareness booklet will give you information about the changes to be aware of and this is the same for any women regardless of already having had a diagnosis of breast cancer, the direct link is


Amber asks

Hello Breast Cancer Care
I have noticed on my scar line a small red pea shape raised up area. I am due for a check up in Dec at the breast clinic do you think I should see my GP or ask to see the oncologist before Dec


Helen answers Amber

Amber I can appreciate your concern at finding a red shaped area along your scar line. If this is something that has suddenly appeared you may need to see your GP to get it checked out. If your GP is concerned he can ask your oncologist to see you before your appointment in December.

Helen answers Julie

Thank you for your questions Julie
I was sorry to hear that you experienced severe shoulder pain with GSCF but am pleased to hear it is now settling down. If you find that this pain is persistent and pain relief is not settling it you may wish to speak to your breast care nurse or oncologist. However, you may find that the pain will continue to settle now. I would suggest that you may find it helpful to discuss this when you next see your oncologist.
There are many types of breast cancer and the specific type is identified on pathology once the cancer has been removed. It is the type of breast cancer and the other pathology findings such as lymph nodes involved, size, grade that determines what further treatment is needed. As you mention cancer treatments are improving all the time, however this does not mean that you have been given inadequate treatment.
There are a number of websites that give information about breast cancer, however, it is sometimes difficult to find sites that are reliable and accurate. You may find UK sites are more helpful as they will discuss treatments available in this country. As well as the information on our website we also recommend Cancerbackup as a good source of information.
You also ask about being breast aware following mastectomy and implant. Following any treatment it is important to get to know how your breast looks and feels now. Your breasts may feel softer or harder than before treatment. Once you are confident with how your breasts look and feel it is important to check now and again to ensure everything remains

emailed from Connie

Hello BCC,
Can you tell me how to check for recurrence of breast cancer where I have had my mastectomy please?


Helen replies to Dawn

Thank you for your comments Dawn
Finding any change to the breast causes a great amount of anxiety. For some people it is more convenient to see their GP and for others it may be more convenient to get an appointment with their hospital specialist or to contact the breast care nurse. What is important is that you get any change checked out by a doctor.

Hi all

Thank you for your input. If you have any more questions can you email or post them now as we only have Helen with us until 1.30

Best wishes



Breast Cancer Care

Hi Helen,

Thanks for the replies. Going back to implants, wouldn’t some lumps be covered by the implants so you wouldn’t be able to feel them? If so what else can you do.

Any advice on hot flushes while on, having Zolidex and will be having tamaxifen?

With thanks


Hi I hope I am not too late, I finished treatment recently and am really scared of secondaries, i was not offered a full body check/scan at any point of my diagnosis or treatment. I was actually told that it would be pointless. I have since read that it is not pointless at all. What would you recommend? I am happy ot pay for it if needed.

Not too late at all treec

Helen is looking at this now.

Sam Moderator

Helen replies to Connie

Thank you for your question Connie. Following treatment for breast cancer it is important to remain breast aware. This means having the confidence to know what your breasts look and feel like normally. You may be very familiar with how your healthy breast feels however, following a mastectomy it is important to get to know how the skin around the scar looks and feels now, remembering to look and feel up to the collar bone and into the armpit. You need to be looking and feeling to make sure everything remains the same. You will need to be aware of any changes to the skin colour and texture; any hardened or lumpy areas along the scar line and any persistent ongoing pain that does not settle on its own. If you notice anything you are worried about you need to see your GP who will be able to examine the area and give you further advice.

Helen replies to Julie

Thanks for your further query on implants Julie.
Many people feel having implants make it more difficult to feel the breast. However, getting to know how the breast feels following implant is all that is needed to be breast aware. It is important to remember that we are looking and feeling to ensure everything stays the same and not searching to find changes. Sadly we cannot stop breast cancer from happening , but being breast aware and attending for mammograms when invited is important in finding changes early. You may also be interested to know that mammograms are available and affective following breast implants.
I was sorry to hear that you are experiencing hot flushes due to zoladex treatment and you may find BCC’s breast cancer and menopausal sypmtoms factsheet useful in finding out more about both practical and medical treatments to relieve symptoms, the weblink is;



Helen replies to treec

Hi treec

I can appreciate your concerns about your breast cancer coming back again in the future. Routine scans, such as bone scans and liver scans are not generally offered following treatment for breast cancer as they are not always effective in picking up cancers early. Many people will experience some symptoms before this is shows up on routine scans.
You may find it helpful to be breast aware, getting to know how your breasts look and feel now following treatment. If you notice anything unusual for you in the texture or feel of the breast or experience any persistent ongoing pain that cannot be explained, you need to see your GP or specialist for further assessment. It is also important to attend follow up appointments.
For many people ending treatment can be very difficult as the security and safety of the regular hospital visits is no longer there. You may find calling BCC’s helpline useful in discussing your concerns further, the helpline staff will also be able to recommend other support services that you may find helpful. You can contact the helpline on 0808 800 6000.