Professor Chris Holcombe is a consultant breast surgeon and head of the Cancer Unit at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, treating thousands of breast cancer patients each year.
Liverpool’s leading breast cancer surgeon says that the number of cases could be reduced by half simply by adopting a healthier lifestyle.
Professor Chris Holcombe will speak at the Break for Hope service for cancer patients.
The 58-year-old, who works in the breast department of the Lynda McCartney Center, told ECHO: “The big challenge is lifestyle. If we were all fit and healthy, we could reduce the number of breast cancer cases by half. It’s an amazing statistic – instead of breast cancer increasing, we could actually reduce it by half by getting more exercise and eating less.
His work includes researching and testing new cancer drugs and treatments – but he says the big message for Liverpool is to exercise more and eat less.
The married father of three children said: “I graduated from high school in zoology and had friends who studied medicine – which I didn’t like.
Chris was appointed consulting breast surgeon at the Royal 20 years ago, although it was a chance encounter that set him on the path to medicine.
“As it turned out, I was operated on, but the diagnosis was wrong – it was just lymph nodes that didn’t need to be removed afterwards – so maybe it was a little divine intervention, because this encounter certainly changed the path I was taking.
“At Easter, before my high school graduation, I had to have a small operation performed on my neck. The anesthetist came to me before the operation and asked me what I was doing and suggested that I study medicine instead.
“The Royal Free sent back the most encouraging answer, so I applied and trained as a medical student in London for five years.
After receiving disappointing A-level results, he wrote to all medical schools in the country and asked if they would accept him.
Chris then went on to jobs across the country, including Shrewsberry, Pembrokeshire, Stoke-on-Trent and Dover, where he learned about surgery.
He returned to Cardiff near his home town where he grew up, and it was here that he developed his interest in breast surgery, breast cancer and breast reconstruction.
He also spent three years in Nigeria in a teaching hospital where he treated everything from small babies with blocked bowels to the removal of arrows from people’s hearts.
Chris, who is also the Medical Director of the Merseyside and Cheshire Cancer Network, came to Liverpool in 1993 and was finally appointed a consultant in 1996.