It was a dimple rather than a lump in her breast that led Rita Middleditch’s GP to send her for a mammogram. Fifteen years ago in the spring of 1997 Rita, 56, from Plaistow, visited the doctor because she had pain in her right breast. “It was as though I had an infection,” she says. “I thought I might be able to feel a lump as well, but I wasn’t sure”.
The GP gave Rita a course of antibiotics, thinking she may have mastitis, but when there was no improvement after a week, Rita went back to the surgery. “This time the GP asked me if I’d always had this ‘dimple’ in my breast,” Rita remembers, “the dimple was in the place where I thought I might have felt a lump.” Rita was referred to Newham General for a mammogram. Two days later, the GP called her back in and within ten days she was admitted to Newham General where she had a lumpectomy. It wasn’t until after the surgery that cancer was diagnosed.
“I wasn’t concerned,” says Rita. “It all happened very quickly and I imagined I just had a cyst. When they told me it was cancer I was so relieved I’d been to the GP, because it was caught very early and hadn’t spread”.
There was no need for chemotherapy. Rita had a course of radiotherapy, and a mammogram every year until last year. Rita’s cancer was treated so long ago that now she has a mammogram every three years, just the same as any other woman over 50. Rita says she knew the importance of going to the GP, even though she wasn’t sure what her symptoms meant. “You shouldn’t feel that you are bothering your GP,” she advises. “If there isn’t a problem you will feel reassured. And if it is cancer, the treatment is so much more effective if it’s spotted early.”
If you notice a lump you need to see your GP now.
It could be something serious such as cancer. Spotting it early could save your life.