Tennis pro Martina Navratilova has cancer – early signs

Zoe Winters explains how to check for breast cancer

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Upon sharing the news on Monday, January 2, 2023, the 18-time Grand Slam singles champion remained unflappable. “The double whammy is serious, but fixable, and I’m hoping for a favourable outcome,” she said. “It’s going to stink for a while, but I’ll fight with all I have got.”

The 66-year-old noticed an enlarged lymph node in her neck during November’s WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) Finals in Fort Worth, Texas.

A subsequent biopsy revealed she had stage one throat cancer; during the tests, another tumour was discovered in Martina’s breast.

Martina’s wife, Julia Lemigova, posted to Instagram on the day the news broke with the caption: “Together, we will fight this.”

Cancer Research UK says throat cancer “could be in one of two main areas”: pharynx or head and neck.

The charity cautioned: “The symptoms of throat cancer are often similar to symptoms of other much less serious conditions.”

Potential signs of throat cancer can include:

  • Ear pain
  • A sore throat
  • A lump in the neck
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Change in your voice or speech
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • A cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • A feeling of something stuck in the throat.

Stage one throat cancer means the tumour has not spread to nearby tissues or lymph nodes.

At this stage, around 90 percent of people affected will survive their cancer for five years or more after diagnosis.

The earlier any type of cancer is diagnosed, the better the outcomes are likely to be.

This is because treatment can start sooner, meaning the cancer has less time to spread elsewhere in the body.

Martina’s breast cancer diagnosis is reportedly completely separate from her throat cancer diagnosis.

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A post shared by Julia Lemigova (@julialemigova)

Breast cancer symptoms

The leading charity Breast Cancer Now highlights the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, which can include:

  • A lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit
  • A change to the skin, such as puckering or dimpling
  • A change in the colour of the breast – the breast may look red or inflamed
  • A nipple change, for example it has become pulled in (inverted)
  • Rash or crusting around the nipple
  • Unusual liquid (discharge) from either nipple
  • Changes in size or shape of the breast.

People are encouraged to check their breasts, including the upper chest to the collarbone and the armpits.

Checking your breasts is as easy as TLC:

  • Touch your breasts: can you feel anything new or unusual?
  • Look for changes: does anything look different to you?
  • Check any new or unusual changes with a GP.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Martina Navratilova (@martinanavratilova)

Cancer Research states that one in two people born after 1960 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime.

Women have the highest lifetime risk of breast cancer, while men have the highest lifetime risk of prostate cancer.

Both sexes are at highest risk for lung and bowel cancers, which are fairly common in the UK.

As soon as you suspect something unusual is happening to you inside your body, do book a doctor’s appointment.

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