Our state of the art breast unit provides a variety of services to the local population. We have a well-established team of specialists who work within recognised guidelines for the management of breast disorders.
We diagnose and treat over 450 new breast cancers every
Our breast unit is also the designated cancer centre for the
people of South Essex and provides the NHS breast screening service
for Shoebury, Thorpe Bay, Southend, Westcliff, Leigh, Thundersley,
Canvey, Basildon, Stanford, Corringham, Grays, Lakeside, Rochford,
Hockley, Rayleigh, Billericay and Wickford. There are three mobile
breast screening units for a screening population of approximately
90,000 women. Each woman has to receive an invitation for screening
once every three years.
We have a multidisciplinary team of
surgeons, radiotherapists and nurses that meets weekly to
discuss the results of investigations and surgery. They follow
recognised national guidelines and local protocols to agree
possible treatment choices. The results of the multidisciplinary
team meetings are discussed with those patients concerned and a
plan of action agreed
After surgery some patients are referred to an oncologist, a
doctor who specialises in cancer treatment. The oncologist will
discuss with the patient whether additional treatment such as
chemotherapy, hormone therapy or radiotherapy should be
After breast surgery the tissue removed is sent to the
pathologist who examines the specimen. Based upon their dissection
and microscopic examination of the specimen, they are able to
determine the tumour grade (how aggressive the cancer appears) and
the stage (the size of the tumour and the extent to which it has
already spread from the original site). Additionally, the
pathologist determines whether the cancer possesses proteins on its
cell surfaces which bind to the hormone oestrogen. The information
that the pathologist provides - grade, stage and oestrogen receptor
status - assists the breast surgeon, oncologist and radiotherapist
in choosing the best possible treatment for each patient.
Breast care nurses
Our breast care nurses work full time within the unit and
provide holistic care and advice throughout the patient's 'cancer
journey'. They are the first point of contact for patients should
they have any problems during or after their treatment and are meet
all patients at the time of diagnosis. Advice is given on
treatments, alternatives and possible side effects and a wide range
of information leaflets supplements this.
Our breast unit is the base for both the symptomatic
breast service and the breast screening service. Radiographers who
work for these services have undergone a year's postgraduate
training specialising in mammography (taking x-rays of the breast).
They also train in the specialised areas of assessment mammography,
assisting the radiologist in biopsy and pre-operative guide wire
There are 15 radiographers working within our breast unit, some
of whom are extending their roles to become advanced practitioners.
These radiographers will specialise in reading x-rays and
performing breast ultrasound.
We provide chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy for the
treatment of breast cancer.
Not all patients need to have chemotherapy. Your
consultant will discuss the various options with you, give you time
to ask questions and come to a decision. Information sheets
are available about the specific drugs used for chemotherapy, how
they are given and possible side effects. Our chemotherapy unit is
situated on the ground floor of the Carlingford Centre, at
the rear of the hospital adjacent to the breast unit.
Your consultant will arrange for your first appointment to be
sent direct to you. The length of time you need to spend in
the unit varies with the type of chemotherapy prescribed, but your
first visit will take longer. The chemotherapy nurse will spend
extra time with you in private explaining in detail the treatment
you will be having, side effects that you might expect and the help
available to overcome side effects. There is plenty of time
for questions and discussion and a friend or relative can accompany
you. You will be given a selection of contact telephone numbers. If
you have any worries or problems help is available 24 hours a day,
seven days a week.
Whilst having your chemotherapy treatment you will be in a large
room sitting in a comfortable armchair, and a friend or relative
can stay with you if you wish. The room is warm so it might
help to wear layers of clothing; drinks are available. Our
chemotherapy nurses will help you with any concerns you have about
treatment and side effects. As you leave the unit you will be
given an appointment for your next treatment.
More information about chemotherapy is available at www.cancerbackup.org.uk
Surgery for both symptomatic and screening patients is performed
at the hospital by our specialist surgeons and their
teams. Day stay and inpatient facilities are
available. Dates for surgery are agreed with the patient in
A full range of reconstructive surgery is undertaken and
is often performed as a combined procedure with our plastic
surgeon. More complex reconstructions are performed at St
Andrew's Regional Plastics Unit at Broomfield Hospital.
Radiotherapy can be given before or after surgery, or in
combination with chemotherapy. It is a form of treatment using high
energy x-rays or electrons and may be recommended for a patient as
a course of treatment. These types of radiotherapy do not make
you radioactive and you can safely mix with other people, including
children, at any time. Your treatment will be planned and
administered at the hospital by specially trained teams of
radiotherapy radiographers and you will be given instructions,
advice, information leaflets and as necessary.
Breast screening reception: 01702 385024