Diana's story – The ‘invisible’ lobular breast cancer


Diana wants women to know how to spot ‘invisible’ lobular breast cancer, which doesn’t always show on ultrasound or mammograms.

Diana worked in the health service before she retired and knows how important it is to detect breast cancer early. Her regular mammograms were all normal, Diana’s only health issue was that she needed a knee replacement.

After her knee operation in 2021, Diana couldn’t use the bath for 6 months and had previously used that time as an opportunity to check her breasts for any lumps or changes. It was with horror that Diana noticed a visible dimple and skin tethering on her left breast whilst looking in the mirror, and knew this could be a cancerous lump pulling the skin inwards. She immediately booked an appointment with her GP who referred her to her local hospital for further investigation.

Diana explained “It wasn’t until my investigations I learned about lobular breast cancer - the cancer I ended up being diagnosed with, and how it often isn’t apparent on mammograms and ultrasound scans. Lobular breast cancer doesn’t always form a lump but grows in a single-file or single cell pattern, making it much harder to see with traditional imaging such as mammograms.

I discovered 15% of all breast cancer cases are lobular and now feel compelled to raise awareness of this ‘invisible’ breast cancer. Whilst mammograms are incredibly important, your boobs are uniquely yours and you need to get to know them to spot changes early. I encourage all women to  ‘own’ their boobs and check themselves well into their seventies.”

Diana knew the importance of being treated quickly and had kept her private medical insurance going after she retired. This meant, once she was diagnosed, she was able to be seen quickly by a surgeon to remove the lump and lymph nodes before starting her programme of radiotherapy and targeted therapy.

Diana had radiotherapy at our centre in Oxford which included using the technique of Deep Inspiration Breath Hold, a breathing technique used to protect organs close to the radiation beam, reducing damage and side effects. The radiation only starts when you’re completely still, and if you move slightly out of position or release your breath, the radiation beam pauses automatically until you’re ready. Our team were able to support Diana in practising her breathing so she felt able to use the technique. Diana also had complimentary counselling and reflexology from Penny Brohn UK and found these incredibly useful.

8 months into a 2-year targeted treatment plan, Diana enjoys a full and active life and has one last message, OWN YOUR BREASTS and check them regularly!!