A mother claims she owes her life to her fake breasts, which she says pushed a cancerous lump to the surface.
Litha Georgiades, 49, felt something in her left breast while showering in 2011 – seven years after getting F-cup implants.
She claims the first doctor she saw said the lump was likely a by-product of her implant. But it grew larger over a year.
A second doctor confirmed her fears, with test results in 2012 showing she had breast cancer and would need a mastectomy.
The dental nurse, from Southend-on-Sea in Essex, is still battling the cancer, which has since spread to her thighbone and liver.
Ms Georgiades is thankful she found the lump when she did, as she claims it may have gone unnoticed for far longer had she not had implants.
But radiographers say it can be difficult to diagnose breast cancer at an early stage in women with implants because they can conceal breast tissue.
Litha Georgiades, 49, of Southend-on-Sea, says she owes her life to her fake boobs because they pushed a cancerous lump to the surface
The mother-of-one is still battling cancer which has spread to her femur and liver. But says she is thankful she found the lump when she did as it may have gone unnoticed for far longer
She said: ‘I was washing my body in the shower when I suddenly felt this hard lump on my left breast – I’d never felt anything like it in my breast before.
‘When the doctor told me that I had cancer, I felt absolutely devastated. I never ever thought that something like this would happen to me.
‘Fear consumed me and I just thought I was going to die. I do feel so grateful that my implant had pushed the tumour out, otherwise I may never of know it was there.
‘I have no family history of cancer and I had no pain or sensations from my left breast so the breast implant really did save my life.’
Ms Georgiades had felt deflated after losing weight made her breasts smaller, so decided to treat herself to breast implants.
She went under the knife at Broomfield Hospital in 2004 and boosted her natural C-cup breasts to an F-cup.
She said: ‘I’d always had nice boobs, and they just disappeared when I lost weight, so I got a boob job which really boosted my confidence.
‘I absolutely loved my implants from the moment I got them. They looked amazing and I had no problems with them at all.’
Ms Georgiades’ confidence soared, and a year later, she welcomed her only son Edward in September 2005.
It wasn’t until May 2011 that Ms Georgiades felt a lump in her left breast and went to the doctor for an examination.
Ms Georgiades had a boob job in 2004. She had her son, Edward, in September 2005
Ms Georgiades claims the first doctor she saw for her lump dismissed it as a result of her implants. When the lump grew noticeably bigger, Ms Georgiades returned to her GP in 2012
CAN BREAST IMPLANTS HELP CANCER DIAGNOSIS?
Some research suggests implants actually make it more difficult to diagnose breast cancer.
There are many different types of breast lumps. It can develop in any part of the breast or nipple, but it is most common in the upper outer quadrant.
Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before it can be felt.
A study in 2013 led by Université Laval suggested that the implants could hide cancerous tissue that would otherwise be detected during screening.
Women with breast implants had a 26 per cent increased risk of being diagnosed at a later stage of breast cancer and a 38 per cent greater risk of dying from the disease than women without implants.
She said: ‘I went to the doctor straight away but this was around the time when all the PIP implants were being talked about.
‘My doctor examined my breasts with her hands before she just dismissed the lump as a result of my implant.
‘I’d already had the implants for a good seven years by this point so I did think it was strange that the lump would appear now if it was because of them, but the doctor seemed so certain that I just trusted her and went back home.’
Ms Georgiades still had her suspicions over the lump and when she noticed it had grown considerably bigger, she returned to her GP in May 2012.
The doctor’s reaction was very different this time and Ms Georgiades was immediately sent to the breast clinic at Southend Hospital for an ultrasound and biopsy.
After a three week wait, Ms Georgiades was taken aback by the results of her tests that showed she had breast cancer.
The cancer had already spread to her sentinel lymph node and the Ms Georgiades was devastated to hear that she would need a mastectomy.
She said: ‘Finding out that I had cancer, and that it had already spread, and that I’d need a mastectomy all in the same appointment was very difficult.
‘Breast cancer just wasn’t something that I thought would happen to me, I was in total shock and I didn’t know what to do with the news.
Ms Georgiades was devastated to hear that she would need a mastectomy after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2012. She had reconstructive surgery using a silicone implant
Ms Georgiades said of her cancer returning: ‘I honestly wasn’t expecting the cancer to have come back and again I went for my results all on my own’
‘It was so surreal, I didn’t know who to call or what to say – it’s such awful news, I didn’t want to ruin anybody’s day.
‘I phoned my son’s dad first, and then a few of my friends who had known I was going to get my results that day, and then I rang my mum.
‘I felt like I’d been given a death sentence, and all I could think about was Edward and how I wanted to see him grow up and get married and become a grandma to his kids.’
In July 2012, Ms Georgiades underwent a mastectomy of her left breast with reconstructive surgery using a silicone implant taking place at the same time.
Following her surgery, Ms Georgiades returned to the hospital every three months for reviews of her breast and appeared to be in recovery from the cancer.
Unfortunately, five years after her mastectomy, Ms Georgiades found another lump under her left armpit and went straight back to her doctor in June 2017.
A biopsy was taken before a MRI scan and CT scan revealed that the cancer had spread to her armpit, neck and spine.
Ms Georgiades said: ‘I honestly wasn’t expecting the cancer to have come back and again I went for my results all on my own.
Ms Georgiades said Edward knows that she is unwell sometimes but she refuses to sit him down for a serious chat about her cancer because it would scare him
Ms Georgiades is due to start chemotherapy next month and is staying positive as she enters the seventh year of her battle against cancer for the sake of her son Edward, now 14
‘In the five years of thinking I was in the clear, I’d been back to work full time and I’d bought an apartment for me and Edward so that we had a home that we could call ours.
‘Hearing it had come back was completely devastating – I thought my struggle was over, but here I was battling cancer yet again.
‘I had five blasts of radiotherapy on my neck which was just awful, it made me feel so sick and it made swallowing really difficult.’
She added: ‘They started me on oestrogen blockers to stop the cancer from spreading, but I was having to go to the hospital every month for these painful injections in my belly.
‘I hated the injections, and eventually I opted to have my ovaries removed in March 2018.
‘It was bitter sweet, as it would be for any woman, but I just could not deal with the injections every month for the rest of my life so it was the better choice for me.’
Ms Georgiades’ battle against cancer isn’t over as scans earlier this year showed that the cancer has now spread to her femur and liver.
Ms Georgiades is due to start chemotherapy next month and is staying positive as she enters the seventh year of her battle against cancer for the sake of her son Edward, now 14.
Ms Georgiades said: ‘Edward knows that I may be unwell sometimes, but I’ve never wanted to do one of those chats where I sit him down with his dad and cry over it because I know that would scare him.
‘He loves science, so he’ll ask me things like why am I going to the hospital, and I’ll just explain that there’s something bad in my body that the doctor needs to take out, and he pretty much accepts that.
‘Edward’s dad Ian and I split up back in 2010, but he’s been great throughout all of this and he’s an amazing dad to Edward.
‘Although this is the worst thing that can happen to anyone, I feel so much good has come from my diagnosis.
‘The love and support I have received from friends and family and even strangers has melted my heart.’
Ms Georgiades’ friends have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to help support her during her ongoing cancer battle.
Victoria Harmer, a trustee for Against Breast Cancer and consultant nurse at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: ‘It’s a terribly emotional story.
‘Ms Georgiade may feel her implants pushed the lump to the surface. But there is certainly no medical evidence this could happen.’
Addie Mitchell, a clinical nurse specialist at Breast Cancer Now said: ‘It’s important for all women, with or without breast implants, to be breast aware, looking and feeling for any unusual changes, including lumps, and report them to a GP.
‘Some women find implants can mask a lump if it’s behind or underneath the implant, while others may say the implant pushing breast tissue forward made a lump easier to feel.
‘It very much depends on where the implants are and where the lump forms. Anyone with questions can speak to their healthcare team or call our free Helpline on 0808 800 6000.’
HOW TO CHECK YOUR BREASTS
What to look out for
- Changes in skin texture for example puckering/dimpling
This is why it is so important to feel AND look at you r boobs. Dimpling and puckering of the skin can look similar to orange peel
- Swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone
It is important to check not just your boob but your upper chest and armpit too, as these areas also contain breast tissue
- Nipple discharge
This is liquid that comes from the nipple without squeezing it
- A sudden, unusual change in shape or shape
Most women may naturally have one boob bigger than the other or experience their boobs gradually changing as they get older.
Many changes are perfectly normal, however if you notice a sudden, unusual change in size or shape then get it checked out
- Nipple inversion and changes in direction
All this means is your nipple has become pulled into the boob or looks different to usual. This could be a change in its position or shape. That’s why it is important to pay special attention to your nipple during your regular checks
- A rash or crusting of the nipple or surrounding area
There are many reasons why your skin could become irritated, especially if you are breast feeding, but if you notice any redness or a rash on the skin and/or around the nipple or any crusting of the nipple, make sure you get it checked out by your doctor
What to feel for
- Lumps and thickening
Some boobs are naturally lumpy and this can be perfectly normal. The key is to get to know how your boobs feel, so you would notice if any new lumps appear or if your boob starts to feel thicker in one area compared to the rest
- Constant, unusual pain in your breast or armpit
Some breast pain can be perfectly normal, especially around your period. But keep an eye out for any unexplained pain in your breast or your armpit that’s there all or almost all of the time