Signs and symptoms of breast cancer following Kelly Preston's tragic death

Actor Kelly Preston, star of Jerry Maguire and Twins and the wife of John Travolta, has died at the age of 57 following a two-year fight with breast cancer.

On Instagram, Travolta shared a photograph of his wife alongside a touching tribute.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my beautiful wife Kelly has lost her two-year battle with breast cancer,” he wrote.

“She fought a courageous fight with the love and support of so many.”

After thanking the doctors and nurses who helped his wife during her cancer journey, Travolta acknowledged the support the family had received from friends and family.

Read more: Majority of women 'unhappy with breasts' – and unlikely to check for lumps

Kelly Preston has tragically passed away after a two year battle with breast cancer, pictured at the premiere of Gotti in June 2018. (Getty Images)
Kelly Preston has died after a two-year battle with breast cancer. (Getty Images)

The couple’s daughter Ella also paid tribute to her mother, saying she had never “met anyone as courageous, strong, beautiful and loving”.

Read more: Mum underwent chemotherapy and a double mastectomy after being misdiagnosed with breast cancer

The Battlefield Earth actor had been secretly fighting the disease, deciding to keep her treatment private.

What are the latest breast cancer statistics?

According to Breast Cancer UK, breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK population.

It represented 15% of all new cancer cases in 2017 and is the most common cancer in women, globally.

“Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in the UK, if detected early through self-checking, symptom assessment and screening, treatment can be more successful and there is a good chance of recovery,” says Dr Ravi K Tomar, GP at Portland Medical and Doctorlink.

The screening programme within the UK saves 1 life for every 200 women screened.

“Whilst survival rates in cancer are improving in the UK, we still lag behind other countries and delays in diagnosis are considered to be a significant factor to this,” says GP Dr Hannah Davies.

“Detecting breast cancer early will improve your chances of survival rate, which is why it is so incredibly important to regularly check your breasts so that you can pick up on an early changes and discuss them with your doctor.”

Dr Davies says this holds true for any cancer – detecting it early will improve your chances of survival.

“The survival rate for breast cancer is around 76%, therefore detecting it early by regularly checking your breasts and being aware of the signs and symptoms can save lives.

“When diagnosed at its earliest stage, all people survive breast cancer for at least one year, versus only two in three people when breast cancer is diagnosed at the latest stage. So check your breasts!”

Read more: TV journalist diagnosed with breast cancer after live TV mammogram

Kelly Preston with her husband John Travolta, pictured at the premiere of Gotti in June 2018. (Getty Images)
Kelly Preston and her husband John Travolta at the premiere of Gotti in June 2018. (Getty Images)

Signs and symptoms

The first symptom of breast cancer most woman notice is a lump, Dr Tomar says. These are rarely cancerous but should be checked by a health professional.

“Other symptoms women may notice include skin changes such as the colour, a rash or dimpling,” he says. “Other signs include a change in size of a breast, a sunken nipple or fluid discharge.”

According to Dr Davies, there’s a difference between a “sign” and a “symptom”.

“Remember,” she says, “a ‘sign’ is a consequence of a medical problem that can be detected and observed by someone else. For example, a breast lump can be felt by your doctor and this is a sign.

“A symptom is subjective and is observed by the patient only. For example, breast pain.”

Signs and symptoms to look out for:

· Lump in the breast

· Swelling or lump in the armpit

· Nipple discharge

· Nipple changes – inversion of the nipple, rash or skin changes around the nipple

· A change in the size or shape of the breast – a key observation is new asymmetry between the breasts

· Dimpling of the skin or thickening in the breast tissue

· “Peau d’orange” – describes characteristic skin changes which are seen in the skin overlying a breast cancer. The skin has an orange peel-like appearance, hence the name.

If you notice any of these, you need to speak urgently to your GP.

“Self breast examination is something women should all be encouraged to do,” Dr Jane Leonard adds. “This is in order to look for any changes such as changes, bumps or lumpy tissue – and if there are, report to your doctor as soon as possible.”

Risk factors of breast cancer

Dr Davies says factors that could increase your risk of breast cancer include having a high alcohol intake, smoking, obesity and having a past history of breast cancer.

Age can also impact the risk factor of breast cancer, with 80% of cases occurring in women aged over 50.

“Family history of breast cancer in a first-degree relative for example your mum, dad, sister can also increase the risk factor, and there is a specific high risk for known BRCA1/2 gene mutation carriers and TP53 gene mutation carriers,” Dr Davies says.

Hormonal risks are also evident: “Never having borne a child, or late age at first child, never having breast fed, early onset of periods, late menopause, oestrogen-progesterone contraceptives, could all impact risk.”