Only about 7 in every 1,000 women who have breast screening will be diagnosed with breast cancer. If your tests show that you have breast cancer, you will be referred to a consultant surgeon or a cancer specialist (a medical oncologist) at a cancer treatment hospital. You may have a range of emotions including shock, anxiety and fear. You will be able to talk to a breast care nurse who can help to support you and your family.
Our section on the emotional effects of cancer discusses the feelings that you may have. It gives advice on how to deal with your emotions and has details of sources of support.
The consultant surgeon or medical oncologist will be able to discuss the treatment with you. Sometimes you may be offered a choice of treatments and it is important to consider the benefits, risks and disadvantages of each carefully before deciding which treatment is best for you.
You can discuss your treatment with the breast care nurse. Our cancer support specialists can also give you information about the different treatment options.
Treatment for breast cancer usually involves some type of surgery: a lumpectomy where just the lump and a small amount of surrounding tissue is removed, or a mastectomy where the whole breast is removed.
Surgery is likely to be followed by radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy (such as tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor) or a biological therapy (such as Herceptin®). Sometimes a combination of these treatments is given.
The treatment may take a few months. In women who attend breast screening the cancer is likely to be found early, when the chance of being cured is high. Over two-thirds of the cancers found during breast screening are small enough to be removed with lumpectomy, rather than needing a mastectomy.
Our section on breast cancer gives information about breast cancer, its treatment and coping with cancer.