Breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and it mainly affects women but can also occur in men. The chances of getting breast cancer are higher in women above the age of 50*. For this reason, regular mammograms once every three years are recommended. Early diagnosis and timely treatment are key elements in successfully treating breast cancer while improving survival rates.


Symptoms of breast cancer can be different from individual to individual, but some of the most common symptoms include: 

  • A lump in the breast or armpit
  • Change in size or shape of one or both breasts
  • Dimpled skin, similar to that of an orange peel
  • Nipple pulled inward, or change
  • Discharge from nipples

If you experience any of the above symptoms or feel a change in your breasts that isn't normal for you, contact your GP who can refer you for further investigations.


A diagnosis for breast cancer is made through various scans and tests. The most common scan arranged to diagnose breast cancer is a mammogram. Ultrasounds, CT scans and MRIs may also be used to find information about the size, location and spread of a tumour. A whole body PET scan would show any areas with active cancer in the whole body.

In some cases, there may be a need to confirm whether a tumour is cancerous and where it has spread in the areas of the breast, underarm and nodes. Biopsies may be carried out to determine this.

A combination of scans, tests and biopsies can confirm details of the size, location and spread of the cancer. It is helpful to have all diagnostic details and test results to hand at a consultation appointment with our oncology specialists.

Treating breast cancer with proton beam therapy

Proton therapy for breast cancer aims to reduce radiation dose to the heart while accurately targeting the cancer cells. The aim is to deposit maximum dose to hard to reach cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue, especially in the lung and heart. 

Benefits of treating breast cancer with proton beam therapy:

Reducing radiation dose to the heart may help avoid radiation-induced heart problems in the future. The dose to the lung can be reduced by proton therapy, and also by the deep inspiration breath-hold (DIBH) technique in radiotherapy. The suitability of the most appropriate technique can be discussed with our consultants.

This type of treatment is available at Rutherford Cancer Centres and we are the only cancer treatment provider in the UK to offer proton beam therapy for breast cancer. Our oncologists specialise in treating with proton beam therapy and radiotherapy. The suitability of the most appropriate treatment will be discussed at a consultation, to make sure a treatment plan is completely tailored to the patient.

Further information & support

Being diagnosed with breast cancer and deciding on the best treatment can be daunting,  for full details on breast cancer treatment options or to discuss a diagnosis, please contact our enquiries team. Our enquiries team will endeavour to help you assess your treatment options and advise which consultants could be best placed to plan your treatment pathway.

Proton Beam Therapy


*Breast Cancer Care Last reviewed: June 2018

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