Debbie McGee health: ‘It scared me to death’ – breast cancer early warning signs

Debbie McGee, 60, is best known as the assistant of magician Paul Daniels on The Paul Daniels Magic Show which went on to achieve internal acclaim in the 80s. The professional relationship also turned personal, with the pair getting married in 1988. Following the devastating death of her husband in 2016, McGee developed breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over 50, but younger women can also get breast cancer.

There’s a good chance of recovery if it’s detected in its early stages, said the NHS.

Speaking to the Sun, McGee revealed lumps were found on her left breast. This can be an early warning sign of the disease, although, as the NHS pointed out, most breast lumps (90 per cent) aren’t cancerous. Women should still consult a doctor to be be on the safe side, the health body advised.

Other warning signs include:

  • A change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  • Bloodstained discharge from either of your nipples
  • A lump or swelling in either of the armpits
  • Dimpling on the skin of the breasts
  • A rash on or around the nipple
  • A change in the appearance of the nipple, such as becoming sunken into the breast

Grief hits you in so many ways you’re not expecting

Debbie McGee

McGee puts her breast cancer diagnosis down to the tragic loss of her husband Paul Daniels.

The magician died of an incurable brain tumour aged 77 in 2016.

Speaking to the Sun, she said: “Grief hits you in so many ways you’re not expecting. It’s not all about sadness.

“I’ve got a friend who lost her husband four years ago.

“She’s younger than me but she got it (cancer) as well.”

Although much more research needs to be conducted to establish a link between stress and breast cancer, study results presented at the Fourth AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities, did suggest an association.

The study found that psychosocial stress could play a role in the etiology of breast cancer aggressiveness, particularly among minority populations.

“We found that after diagnosis, black and Hispanic breast cancer patients reported higher levels of stress than whites, and that stress was associated with tumour aggressiveness,” said Garth H. Rauscher, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology in the division of epidemiology and biostatistics at the School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Rauscher and colleagues studied patient-reported perceptions of fear, anxiety and isolation, together referred to as psychosocial stress, and associations with breast cancer aggressiveness. He cautioned that patients’ stress levels were examined two to three months post-diagnosis.

The study included 989 breast cancer patients who were recently diagnosed; of those, 411 were non-Hispanic black, 397 were non-Hispanic white, and 181 were Hispanic. Results showed that psychosocial stress scores were higher for both black and Hispanic patients compared to white patients.

“Those who reported higher levels of stress tended to have more aggressive tumours. However, what we don’t know is if we had asked them the same question a year or five years before diagnosis, would we have seen the same association between stress and breast cancer aggressiveness?

“It’s not clear what’s driving this association. It may be that the level of stress in these patients’ lives influenced tumor aggressiveness. It may be that being diagnosed with a more aggressive tumor, with a more worrisome diagnosis and more stressful treatments, influenced reports of stress. It may be that both of these are playing a role in the association. We don’t know the answer to that question,” Rauscher said.

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