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Monday, 29 October, 2001, 00:03 GMT
How cancer affects body image
Jackie (left) and her mother Kate - both struck by breast cancer
Jackie (left) and her mother Kate - both struck by breast cancer
More women are hit by breast cancer than by any other type. Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers for men.

Both can be cured, if diagnosed early. But patients often have to deal with issues about their body image and their sexuality.

The BBC documentary, Living With Cancer, looks at two patients who are being treated at the Middlesex Hospital in London.


Jackie Hughes has an early form of breast cancer.

When she heard the diagnosis, she was shocked but unsurprised.

Kate was not offered reconstructive surgery
Kate was not offered reconstructive surgery
Her mother Kate also had breast cancer, and underwent a double mastectomy in 1973.

Jackie, 53, has been offered reconstructive surgery after her mastectomy. Her mother was not.

Their treatment demonstrates how doctors now accept many women who undergone surgery want to retain their feminine appearance, as well as being treated for cancer.

Jackie was 19 when her mother had breast cancer, and she said: "At that age, I didn't think that I would ever get it.

"When I got to 40, then I started worrying about it.

"When they found something, it was a shock, but I was waiting for it to happen, actually."

Genetic link

It is currently estimated that around 5% of breast cancers are due to an inherited genetic mutation.

As Jackie's great-grandmother had the disease as well, the family are considered suitable for genetic tests, including Jackie's two grown-up daughters.

Ivan Kapellus: says he will 'look cancer in the face'
Ivan Kapellus: says he will 'look cancer in the face'
Kate's breast cancer was diagnosed when she was being examined prior to a hysterectomy.

After a second operation to remove both breasts, she asked the doctor is she could "have some boobs", because she did not want to have a flat chest.

"I was told, until the time comes, put a pair of socks down your boobs," she said.

"We just got on with our lives then, nobody mentioned it, you never mentioned it to anybody.

"But I really felt deformed. It took a long, long time."

Jackie said she was amazed at the difference in the treatment she and her mother received.

"I look at her and think - she went through so much and didn't get any help.

"I've got so much help. All I have to do is lie there and get better.

"With mum, she didn't have any of that. She had her boobs off, they gave her a pad and said goodbye."

Jackie's operation removed the cancerous breast tissue and rebuilt her breast and nipple using a muscle from her back.

Her cancer was non-invasive, so she needed no further treatment.

She decided to only go back to work part-time.

"When something like this happens to you, then you realise life is short and so precious.

"I realised there's more to life than just rushing around all the time.

"It's a good feeling to be alive."

'Look it in the face'

Ivan Kapellus has prostate cancer. It is the second time he has had cancer.

In 1998, in a tragic coincidence, both he and his wife Esther were diagnosed with different types of lymphoma, a rare form of blood cancer.

Esther died last year. Ivan is now in remission.

The cancerous tissue removed from Ivan Kapellus' prostate
The cancerous tissue removed from Ivan Kapellus' prostate
Despite his experiences, he said he would fight the prostate cancer.

"Let's not dance around it, let's look it in the face and deal with it."

He still has to have a three-monthly biopsy and CT scan to make sure the lymphoma has not returned.

Ivan said he wants to get his prostate surgery out of the way, so he can get on with his life.

The operation will also show if the cancer has spread.

Prostate surgery is risky because of the gland's proximity to the bladder and the penis. Treatments can affect continence and the ability to have an erection.

Ivan's operation to remove cancerous tissue from the prostate was successful and checks on levels of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) showed he was in the clear.

He is now looking forward to continuing to live a full life.

Ivan said: "I just believe you've got to be very positive."

Living With Cancer, Men and Women is on BBC1 on Monday 29 October at 2235GMT.

See also:

21 Sep 01 | Health
High calcium prostate cancer link
13 May 01 | Health
Simple test for cancer gene
24 Oct 00 | Health
Breast gene radiation fears eased
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