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    ‘It’s shocking for many people at just 38’: Sarah Harding’s breast cancer is ‘relatively uncommon’, says GMB’s Dr Hilary Jones as he urges the public to go for check-ups

    • The singer and former wild child shared her shocking diagnosis with fans to Instagram on Wednesday, leading to an outpouring of support 
    • Sarah is currently undergoing weekly chemotherapy treatment for the disease 
    • Forming in 2003, Girls Aloud went on hiatus in 2009 before reuniting in 2012, the band announced their split following a successful final tour in 2013  
    • If you have been affected by this story, call Macmillan Cancer Support on 0808 808 00 00 

    Sarah Harding’s breast cancer is ‘relatively uncommon’ among her age group, said Good Morning Britain’s Dr Hilary Jones on Thursday’s episode.

    The Girls Aloud singer, 38, revealed her battle with breast cancer in an emotional Twitter post on Wednesday, and shared that the cancer had ‘spread to other parts of her body.’

    Discussing the star’s shocking diagnosis on the show, Dr Hilary, said it was statistically rare for someone of Sarah’s age to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

    Devastating: Sarah Harding’s breast cancer is ‘relatively uncommon’ among her age group, said Good Morning Britain’s Dr Hilary Jones on Thursday’s episode

    He said: ‘It’s shocking isn’t it, for many people at just 38, Sarah Harding has announced she had breast cancer diagnosed earlier in the year before the lockdown. 

    ‘She’s had treatment but has now learned it has spread to other parts of the body.   

    ‘A lot of people are saying, “But that’s so young,” and it is. If you look at the stats about 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. It’s the commonest cancer of all in women.

    ‘But the majority of those will be over 50, about 8,000 are under 50, and only about 2,000 under the age of 40, so it’s relatively uncommon.

    'Relatively uncommon'': He said: 'It's shocking isn't it, for many people at just 38, Sarah Harding has announced she had breast cancer diagnosed earlier in the year before the lockdown'

    ‘Relatively uncommon”: He said: ‘It’s shocking isn’t it, for many people at just 38, Sarah Harding has announced she had breast cancer diagnosed earlier in the year before the lockdown’

     ‘But obviously more devastating for that when it’s diagnosed at such a tender age, and we wish her all the very best.’

    Speaking to hosts Ranvir Singh and Sean Fletcher, Dr Hilary also said: ‘The success rate and the outcomes for breast cancer have increased dramatically in the last 40 years.

    ‘So that’s really good news, we have got better treatment, we have got earlier diagnosis through screening, self-checking, so that’s all good news.’

    Dr Hilary urged members of the public to self-check their breasts and hammered home the importance of early detection.   

    He said: ‘It’s very individual, there are no general rules you can apply to everybody.

    ‘But early detection is still key, screening, self-checking, still very important, and I am sure Sarah was doing all that and sometimes it still slips through the net and it’s a tragedy when it does.’

    The medic was asked if the fact the cancer had spread to other parts of Sarah’s body meant it had gone undetected for a long time, to which Dr Hilary replied: ‘It depends on the type of cell, some cells are much more aggressive, so you can have an almost undetectable breast lump which can spread to other parts of the body,’ he said.

    ‘In other instances the actual initial lump that is detected is quite large, and it hasn’t spread, so a lot depends on the cell type, on whether the cells respond to hormones, and whether they have receptors for other types of proteins.

    The interview comes amid claims Sarah Harding made emotional phone calls to her Girls Aloud band mates about her cancer battle just days before she made a public statement.

    According to reports, the singer spoke to Cheryl, Nadine Coyle, Kimberley Walsh and Nicola Roberts before publicly announcing she has ‘advanced’ breast cancer. 

    It has been claimed that the group are with their friend ‘every step of the way’ and the news has brought them closer than ever.  

    Making contact:The interview comes amid claims Sarah Harding made emotional phone calls to her Girls Aloud band mates about her cancer battle just days before she made a public statement (pictured in 2016)

    Making contact:The interview comes amid claims Sarah Harding made emotional phone calls to her Girls Aloud band mates about her cancer battle just days before she made a public statement (pictured in 2016)

    A source told the Mirror: ‘There is so much shared history between them all and to hear this from Sarah was utterly heartbreaking. They adore Sarah and are with her every step of the way. 

    ‘They’ve all shed a lot of tears but all of the girls vowed to be strong and be there for her no matter what. They are closer than ever as a unit.’

    MailOnline has contacted a representative of Sarah for comment.

    The singer and former wild child shared her shocking diagnosis with fans on Instagram on Wednesday, leading to an outpouring of support.

    Emotional: The singer spoke to Cheryl, Nadine Coyle, Kimberley Walsh and Nicola Roberts before publicly announcing she has 'advanced' breast cancer (pictured in 2013)

    Emotional: The singer spoke to Cheryl, Nadine Coyle, Kimberley Walsh and Nicola Roberts before publicly announcing she has ‘advanced’ breast cancer (pictured in 2013)

    Sarah announced the heartbreaking news with a snap taken from her hospital bed, as she explained she’d been undergoing weekly chemotherapy sessions, but the cancer has spread to ‘other parts of her body.’

    She wrote: ‘Hi everyone, I hope you are all keeping safe and well during these uncertain times.

    ‘I’ve not posted on here for so long, thank you to everyone who has reached out to check in on me, it really does mean a lot.

    ‘I feel now is the right time to share what’s been going on. There’s no easy way to say this and actually it doesn’t even feel real writing this, but here goes.

    ‘Earlier this year I was diagnosed with breast cancer and a couple of weeks ago I received the devastating news that the cancer has advanced to other parts of my body.’

    A source told the Mirror: 'There is so much shared history between them all and to hear this from Sarah was utterly heartbreaking. They adore Sarah and are with her every step of the way' (pictured in 2007)

    A source told the Mirror: ‘There is so much shared history between them all and to hear this from Sarah was utterly heartbreaking. They adore Sarah and are with her every step of the way’ (pictured in 2007) 

    Sarah continued: ‘I’m currently undergoing weekly chemotherapy sessions and I am fighting as hard as I possibly can. I understand this might be shocking to read on social media and that really isn’t my intention.

    ‘But last week it was mentioned online that I had been seen in hospital, so I feel now is the time to let people know what’s going on and this is the best way I can think of to do so.

    ‘My amazing mum, family and close friends are helping me through this, and I want to say a thank you to the wonderful NHS doctors and nurses who have been and continue to be heroes.

    ‘I am doing my very best to keep positive and will keep you updated here with how I’m getting on. In the meantime I hope you’ll all understand and respect my request for privacy during this difficult time. Sending you all so much love….xx.’

    All of the Girls Aloud members sent their support, with Cheryl, 37, tweeting a ‘broken heart’ emoji after Sarah announced the news.

    They added: 'They’ve all shed a lot of tears but all of the girls vowed to be strong and be there for her no matter what. They are closer than ever as a unit' (pictured in a throwback photo)

    They added: ‘They’ve all shed a lot of tears but all of the girls vowed to be strong and be there for her no matter what. They are closer than ever as a unit’ (pictured in a throwback photo) 

    Nadine, 35, wrote: ‘I love you!! You have always been able to achieve miracles when needed!! I am here for the all ways & always will be!!!’

    Clearly shocked by Sarah’s diagnosis, Nicola, 34, tweeted: ‘It goes without saying that this is blindsiding. @SarahNHarding you’re so loved and supported.’

    Kimberley, 38, also sent her love to her former bandmate, writing: ‘My heart is broken. You are so strong and brave and we are with you every step of the way.’

    Girls Aloud split in 2013, but were dogged by rumours of secret feuds within the band, with Cheryl, Nicola and Kimberley forming a notably closer bond.

    Kimberley has also said to MailOnline in November 2019: ‘Cheryl, Nicola and I… we were just very close. I just don’t click with the other girls.

    ‘There is honestly no rift, we just didn’t click in the same way with Nadine and Sarah that we’d want to see each other every week. It was more that we were work friends.’

     

    We're with you: Posting on Twitter, Cheryl shared a single broken heart emoji, while Nadine insisted she will continue to support her old friend during the crisis. Nicola and Kimberley also showed their support for Sarah later that day

    We’re with you: Posting on Twitter, Cheryl shared a single broken heart emoji, while Nadine insisted she will continue to support her old friend during the crisis. Nicola and Kimberley also showed their support for Sarah later that day 

    Forming in 2003, the group went on hiatus in 2009 before reuniting in 2012. Girls Aloud announced their split following a successful final tour in 2013. 

    It comes as Coleen Nolan recently told how she believes Sarah is right to stay positive amid her cancer battle.

    The Loose Women presenter tragically lost her sister Bernie, 52, to breast cancer in 2013 while her sisters Anne, 69, and Linda, 61, are both currently going through treatment for cancer. 

    Writing in The Mirror, Coleen said of Sarah: ‘She, like so many others – including my sisters – knows the power of facing this awful disease head-on and battling it with everything you have. 

    ‘Whether it’s as a shoulder to cry on, a rallying cry when things get tough or simply silence and a held hand when needed, those of us who can only watch our loved ones facing this ordeal must be whatever they need.’

    While Coleen acknowledged Sarah has difficult weeks and months ahead, she added: ‘Sarah is in the best possible place to face down this horrible disease and, we all hope, beat it.’ 

    For years Sarah was known for her hard-partying ways, and was dubbed ‘Hardcore Harding’ by her band mates and referred to as the ‘caner’ of the group, as she was often seen swigging from whisky bottles and stumbling out of nightclubs

    She checked into rehab in 2011 after ‘hitting rock bottom’ following her split from fiancé Tom Crane for ‘depression and alcohol addiction.’

    The Sun reported at the time that she turned to alcohol to help her through the painful period.

    A source told the publication: ‘She’s been through a traumatic time in her personal life and had to honour her work commitments on top. She needs some time out to clear her head.’

    ‘Some of her closest friends had suggested she seek help over the last few months, but she refused,’ a source told the Sun.

    ‘Splitting from Tom has played a huge part in her decision to seek help. She just needs to get herself back on track emotionally. She had hit rock bottom.’  

    Speaking out: It comes as Coleen Nolan recently told how she believes Sarah is right to stay positive amid her cancer battle

    Speaking out: It comes as Coleen Nolan recently told how she believes Sarah is right to stay positive amid her cancer battle 

    This concerned her band mates Kimberley and Nicola who recommended she seek professional help.

    Describing herself as ‘such a mess’, from October that year Sarah spent a stint in a US clinic to battle alcohol and sleeping pill addiction.

    ‘I’ve been told by those close to me that was when I hit my worst,’ she said.

    ‘I was crying hysterically. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, terrified – my emotions were all over the place.’

    Sarah’s television career post Girls Aloud also saw her venture into the world of reality – she competed on BBC gymnastics show Tumble in 2014 where she placed third before taking part in Celebrity MasterChef the following year.

    The star took on her most gruelling physical challenge to date when she joined the line-up of Channel 4 series, The Jump, in 2016.

    Past: For years Sarah was known for her hard-partying ways, and was dubbed 'Hardcore Harding' by her band mates and referred to as the 'caner' of the group (pictured in 2012)

    Past: For years Sarah was known for her hard-partying ways, and was dubbed ‘Hardcore Harding’ by her band mates and referred to as the ‘caner’ of the group (pictured in 2012)

    Her hopes of winning the series came to a painful end when she tore a ligament in her knee during training which forced her to withdraw from the series.

    The knock-on effects of Sarah’s injury also scuppered further work opportunities. She appeared in a UK tour of Ghost The Musical but was replaced midway through the run due to her injury.

    Sarah made a triumphant return to screens on Celebrity Big Brother in 2017, where she found love with US reality star Chad Johnson for just three months – which set tongues wagging as the singer had a boyfriend of four weeks at the time.

    Confirming their split at the time, she said: ‘It is with sadness that I can now confirm my relationship with Chad is over.

    ‘The distance has proved too much of an obstacle even though we both tried to make it work.

    ‘I wish him all the best for the future and thank him for the memories we shared during a very interesting summer.’

    The media personality has maintained a low profile in recent years and changed her Twitter bio to read ‘taking a timeout’ last year.

    Struggles: She checked into rehab in 2011 after 'hitting rock bottom' following her split from fiancé Tom Crane for 'depression and alcohol addiction' (pictured in 2013)

    Struggles: She checked into rehab in 2011 after ‘hitting rock bottom’ following her split from fiancé Tom Crane for ‘depression and alcohol addiction’ (pictured in 2013)

    In April, her ex-boyfriend Chad, 33, said that he doesn’t know where she is and nobody has ‘really heard from her’ after it was reported last year she had ‘quit fame’ to go into hiding.

    Sarah made her return to social media for the first time since July 2019 in May of this year, sparking a delighted reaction from fans, as she shared a series of tweets.

    The artist’s first post showed a gif of a T-Rex reaching out his arms saying: ‘I miss you this much’.

    Captioning the tweet, she penned: ‘Lmfao…[email protected]….#splatchat’ with several prayer hand emojis.

    Following her initial dinosaur inspired post, the blonde beauty was met with comments from delighted fans who missed her during her ‘timeout.’

    The songstress then replied to fans: ‘Fankooo lovelies. Missed you all…. Hope Ur all well and staying safe xxx’. 

    Addressing the issue on Wednesday’s edition of Loose Women, panellist Carol McGiffin drew parallels with her own cancer battle in 2014.

    Success: Sarah made a triumphant return to screens on Celebrity Big Brother in 2017 and won the series (pictured in 2017)

    Success: Sarah made a triumphant return to screens on Celebrity Big Brother in 2017 and won the series (pictured in 2017)

    The 60-year old, who underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions after finding a lump on her breast, said: ‘I feel for Sarah, it is actually the hardest thing [revealing your diagnosis].

    ‘It’s hard enough getting the diagnosis, but when you get used to that it’s then having to tell other people.

    ‘It’s difficult, I only told my family and close friends but with every single one of them I had to make a real effort to think it through. So for her having to do that and tell the world and put it on social media straight away I feel for her.’

    Co-panellist Kaye Adams added: ‘I don’t want to be insensitive talking about someone’s experiences with cancer. When my grandma was diagnosed with cancer a long time ago she didn’t say the word, she called it the big C.

    ‘So while I feel bad bringing it up, Sarah has said she is receiving the best treatment and has paid tribute to the staff who are treating her.’

    She added: ‘Sarah our thoughts are genuinely with you.’

    If you have been affected by this story, call Macmillan Cancer Support on 0808 808 00 00.

    Privacy: The media personality has maintained a low profile in recent years and changed her Twitter bio to read 'taking a timeout' last year (pictured in 2018)

    Privacy: The media personality has maintained a low profile in recent years and changed her Twitter bio to read ‘taking a timeout’ last year (pictured in 2018)

    Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world and affects more than two MILLION women a year

    Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. Each year in the UK there are more than 55,000 new cases, and the disease claims the lives of 11,500 women. In the US, it strikes 266,000 each year and kills 40,000. But what causes it and how can it be treated?

    What is breast cancer?

    Breast cancer develops from a cancerous cell which develops in the lining of a duct or lobule in one of the breasts.

    When the breast cancer has spread into surrounding breast tissue it is called an ‘invasive’ breast cancer. Some people are diagnosed with ‘carcinoma in situ’, where no cancer cells have grown beyond the duct or lobule.

    Most cases develop in women over the age of 50 but younger women are sometimes affected. Breast cancer can develop in men though this is rare.

    Staging means how big the cancer is and whether it has spread. Stage 1 is the earliest stage and stage 4 means the cancer has spread to another part of the body.

    The cancerous cells are graded from low, which means a slow growth, to high, which is fast growing. High grade cancers are more likely to come back after they have first been treated.

    What causes breast cancer?

    A cancerous tumour starts from one abnormal cell. The exact reason why a cell becomes cancerous is unclear. It is thought that something damages or alters certain genes in the cell. This makes the cell abnormal and multiply ‘out of control’.

    Although breast cancer can develop for no apparent reason, there are some risk factors that can increase the chance of developing breast cancer, such as genetics.

    What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

    The usual first symptom is a painless lump in the breast, although most breast lumps are not cancerous and are fluid filled cysts, which are benign. 

    The first place that breast cancer usually spreads to is the lymph nodes in the armpit. If this occurs you will develop a swelling or lump in an armpit.

    How is breast cancer diagnosed?

    • Initial assessment: A doctor examines the breasts and armpits. They may do tests such as a mammography, a special x-ray of the breast tissue which can indicate the possibility of tumours.
    • Biopsy: A biopsy is when a small sample of tissue is removed from a part of the body. The sample is then examined under the microscope to look for abnormal cells. The sample can confirm or rule out cancer.

    If you are confirmed to have breast cancer, further tests may be needed to assess if it has spread. For example, blood tests, an ultrasound scan of the liver or a chest x-ray.

    How is breast cancer treated?

    Treatment options which may be considered include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone treatment. Often a combination of two or more of these treatments are used.

    • Surgery: Breast-conserving surgery or the removal of the affected breast depending on the size of the tumour.
    • Radiotherapy: A treatment which uses high energy beams of radiation focussed on cancerous tissue. This kills cancer cells, or stops cancer cells from multiplying. It is mainly used in addition to surgery.
    • Chemotherapy: A treatment of cancer by using anti-cancer drugs which kill cancer cells, or stop them from multiplying
    • Hormone treatments: Some types of breast cancer are affected by the ‘female’ hormone oestrogen, which can stimulate the cancer cells to divide and multiply. Treatments which reduce the level of these hormones, or prevent them from working, are commonly used in people with breast cancer.

    How successful is treatment?

    The outlook is best in those who are diagnosed when the cancer is still small, and has not spread. Surgical removal of a tumour in an early stage may then give a good chance of cure.

    The routine mammography offered to women between the ages of 50 and 70 mean more breast cancers are being diagnosed and treated at an early stage.

    For more information visit breastcancercare.org.uk or www.cancerhelp.org.uk

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