EastEnders’ Sam Womack is ‘recuperating after breast cancer op’ – early warning signs

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On August 9, 2022, Sam Womack – who is best known for portraying Ronnie Mitchell in EastEnders – Tweeted a picture of herself with the late Olivia Newton John, who had passed away from breast cancer the day before. “This was the most magical of evenings,” Womack Tweeted. “Olivia and Chloe [Olivia’s daughter] had come to see Grease in London and we had dinner together afterwards. I was so excited and in awe, she was my childhood. I now start my own battle with this disease and am left feeling deeply moved.”

Since the emotional tribute to the singer and activist, Womack updated people about her own tumour. “Recuperating after breast cancer op,” Womack posted on Friday, August 19. “My love makes me turmeric and ginger in the morning and homemade butternut squash soup in the evening. Feeling loved and grateful.” In the UK, breast screenings – medically referred to as mammograms – are routinely offered to women between the ages of 50 to 71. The NHS certifies: “Anyone registered with a GP as female will be invited for NHS breast screening every three years between the ages of 50 and 71. You’ll get a letter in the post inviting you.”

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Any woman who has not been invited for breast screening by the time she is 53 should contact their local breast screening service. Women over the age of 71 can also get checked at their local breast screening service.

What happens during a mammogram?

“During breast screening you’ll have four breast X-rays (mammograms), two for each breast,” the NHS reveals. Mammograms are performed by a medical specialist, called a mammographer, who will be a female.

The 30-minute appointment will involve entering a private changing area to remove clothes from the waist up. Patients will then be given a hospital gown to wear, and asked to enter the X-ray room. The NHS continues: “The mammographer will place your breast onto the X-ray machine. It will be squeezed between two pieces of plastic to keep it still while the X-rays are taken. This takes a few seconds and you need to stay still. Your breast will be taken off of the machine afterwards.”

The results of the mammogram will be posted to patients within two weeks of their appointment. There will either be “no sign of breast cancer” or further tests might be needed, including ultrasounds of the breasts, more mammograms, and/or an examination of the breast. “Most people who need further tests will not be diagnosed with breast cancer,” the NHS assures. However, one in seven women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime, according to Cancer Research UK.

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While the cancerous tumour is more likely to develop in women over the age of 50, younger people can also develop the disease. Moreover, having a clear mammogram does not guarantee you will not develop the tumour by the time the next appointment comes around. This is why it’s important to recognise the symptoms of breast cancer, and to book a doctor’s appointment if you notice any of them.

Breast cancer symptoms:

  • A new lump or thickening in your breast or armpit
  • A change in size, shape or feel of your breast
  • Skin changes in the breast such as puckering, dimpling, a rash or redness of the skin
  • Fluid leaking from the nipple in a woman who isn’t pregnant or breast feeding
  • Changes in the position of the nipple.

EastEnders airs on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm on BBC One.

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