Health & Fitness: 'Covid saved your life!' Mum discovers cancer from Covid chest scan

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Jan Dea suffered with Covid © Jan Dea/SWNS Jan Dea suffered with Covid

Jan, from Stockton-on-Tees, Co Durham, had undergone her regular mammo grams but the traditional screening tool can be less reliable for women with dense breast tissue. Jan, who had worked as a stroke nurse for 20 years, found herself back at North Tees Hospital, her old workplace, when she got Covid in late 2020, along with her daughter Katie, 24.

Severe coronavirus can lead to blood clots on the lungs so Jan underwent a CT scan of her chest, which revealed the tumour.

She said: "I was at the end of my isolation period but just didn't feel well. I was watching a film with my daughter when I had to take myself off to bed. I was freezing and shaking but my daughter Katie said I was burning up."

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"Katie called 111 but because I'm asthmatic they sent an ambulance. I didn't want to waste anyone's time."

"The next day they took me for a scan to check my lungs. The consultant said that while there were no blood clots, the 'contrast dye' revealed a mass in my right breast. I was shocked as I've had all the mammograms. I go every three years, I thought I was fine."

"I was referred to a specialist but I couldn't go until I was negative."

"It had been 23 days of having Covid. But after isolating at home and two negative tests, I saw a consultant in December. They confirmed it was breast cancer."


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"I was told that if I hadn't been admitted with Covid, by the time I'd have felt it, the cancer would have been too advanced. My surgeon said: 'Covid saved your life.'"

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She said: "They took out the area of the cancer and some lymph nodes which luckily it hadn't spread to. I waited another six weeks for radiotherapy and had a condensed treatment over five days."

When it was over, Jan celebrated by ringing a ceremonial bell as she left James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Melanie Sturtevant, from Breast Cancer Now, said: "While we know that mammography can be less effective at detecting cancer in women with dense breasts, we encourage women to continue to go to breast screening when invited and regularly check their breasts."

Jan Dea with Peter, Rachel and Katie © Jan Dea/SWnS Jan Dea with Peter, Rachel and Katie

"Research is looking at how the NHS screening programme could better serve the needs of women with dense breasts. We hope the emerging studies will highlight the best way to ensure women have the best chance of early diagnosis."

Jan, who has two other child-ren Peter, 32, and Rachel, 33, has signed up for Breast Cancer Now's Afternoon Tea fundraiser next month. Also sup-porting the event is 2016 MasterChef winner Jane Devonshire, who has survived the disease as well.

Around 56,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year. It claims 11,500 lives annually - the fourth most common cause of cancer death.

Anyone can sign up for next month's Host an Afternoon Tea for Breast Cancer Now initiative.

  • Fundraising kits are available at breastcancernow.org/cuppa

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