Ex-Dragons’ Den star reveals breast cancer diagnosis after avoiding checks for eight years

Former Dragons’ Den star Kelly Hoppen has revealed she was diagnosed with breast cancer after eight years of avoiding mammograms.

The 63-year-old shared that she was “out of the woods” after being given the all-clear, but acknowledged she could have had a “less happy outcome”.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Hoppen said she could not believe her “own stupidity” after missing the routine appointments and said it was a “foolish thing to do”.

She wrote: “It’s a cautionary tale, a warning to others, not to be too frightened, too harried by the demands of work to go to your appointments.”

As she was getting older, Hoppen said she thought she had less of a chance of developing the disease and had “dodged the bullet”.

But when her results came back, they revealed she had ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). This meant some cells in the lining of the ducts of the breast tissue had started to turn into cancer cells, but they had not yet spread into the surrounding breast tissue.

Macmillan describes DCIS as the “earliest possible form of breast cancer”.

Hoppen said she had the cancer cells removed, saying the “awful procedure” left her “very sore”.

She described herself as “hugely fortunate” that the cancer was detected so early.

Hoppen added: “Had it not been, I might have faced a less happy outcome. Actually, I might not be here writing this cautionary tale now.”

‘There were no warning signs’

Hoppen, an interior designer, revealed her mother had breast cancer at around the same age she is now.

“At the time I couldn’t cope with her illness and my strategy was to blank everything out,” Hoppen said.

She added that she would ignore routine check-ups, or book and then postpone them – and sometimes cancel them altogether to avoid going to the hospital.

“I hate hospitals as I watched my father die in one when he was only 48,” she wrote.

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Hoppen said that last September she finally felt it was time to attend the “long-overdue” mammogram.

She wrote: “I hadn’t detected a lump; there were no warning signs. Perhaps it was just intuition, but something made me determined to finally go.”

She has now vowed to never skip a mammogram again, and urged other women to attend their screenings.

Hoppen appeared as an investor on BBC show Dragon’s Den between 2013 and 2015, when she left due to “timing commitments”.

What are some of the symptoms of breast cancer?

According to the NHS, the first sign most women notice is a lump or thickened tissue in their breast.

Other symptoms include:

  • A change in the size or shape of one of your breasts
  • A lump or thickened tissue in the breast
  • A discharge of fluid from the breast
  • A lump in either of your armpits
  • A change in your skin, such as redness or a rash
  • A rash and itchy skin on or around the nipple
  • A change in the appearance of your nipple

The NHS has advised people to contact their GPs if changes are noticeable.

“Get to know what is normal for you – for instance, your breasts may look or feel different at different times of your life,” it says on its website.

“This will make it easier to notice potential problems.”

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