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Travelling with Breast Cancer Guide

AllClear Team
Last updated 25 March 2021
Travelling with breast cancer: grandmother, mother and daughter relaxing on the beach

Did you know breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK? 

Around 55,000 women and 370 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK – and one in seven women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

That’s why this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we have put together an all-one-guide for finding the right holiday cover, keeping travel costs down, staying safe abroad and much much more.

Because whether you are living with breast cancer, a survivor or simply know someone affected, it’s still possible to have your dream holiday – and we’re here to help! Read our travelling with breast cancer guide below…

Before You Go

Consult your doctor

It’s important to get your doctor’s advice on your holiday plans. There’s a good chance they will be very supportive of you going away, but your doctor can also advise you on the best time to travel and which activities are suitable.

Choose specialist breast cancer travel insurance

Specialist travel insurance can cover you for your pre-existing medical conditions, including any emergency treatment expenses, cancellation of your trip, repatriation to the UK and much more. AllClear is proud to be an expert in specialist breast cancer travel insurance. We even cut our prices for breast cancer cover by up to 15%. That’s because we analyse the effects of each medical condition individually and react to improvements in cancer treatments.

We also offer medical cover unavailable elsewhere – such as Waiting List cover. If you’re yet to be given a date for your treatment, you are regarded as being on a waiting list and some providers will not offer any cover in this circumstance. On AllClear Gold and AllClear Plus policies however, we can not only still offer you a quote, but also include cancellation cover relating to your planned treatment.

Could we help you? Over 3 million holidaymakers who have trusted AllClear for peace of mind.

How to keep your travel insurance costs down

It’s worth knowing a few tips to keep costs down: The US is the most expensive place to get cover because of extremely high medical costs. You can save money on your travel insurance by opting for a larger excess, or if it’s a last-minute holiday, you have the option to exclude cancellation cover.

We can help you compare up to 61 prices online to find your perfect policy.

Plan your medication

Make sure you have all the medication you will need for your trip well in advance, and check whether your medication is readily available in the country you are visiting – just in case you lose yours. To help keep of your medication, also consider packing medication in your carry-on rather than hold luggage (subject to airline restrictions).

While crossing time zones, formulate a plan with your doctor to make sure you take your medication at the right intervals.

Check the need for vaccinations

When discussing travelling with breast cancer with your doctor, check whether you need any vaccinations for your destination.

Live vaccinations – including yellow fever and tuberculosis – are not recommended during chemotherapy or for six months after. This is because the vaccinations contain tiny amounts of live virus or bacteria which could cause serious infections.

Inactivated vaccines – such as diphtheria and tetanus – are safe after treatment, but may be less effective if you have a weakened immune system, which is likely for the first six months after chemotherapy.

Travelling with breast cancer: View of sunrise under palm tree on beach holiday

While You’re Flying

Flying with a prosthesis?

If you have had a mastectomy (removal of the breast) – or if this procedure is panned –  you may be wearing a prosthesis (an artificial breast). If you are concerned about the prosthesis being picked up by the airport scanner, considering telling security staff beforehand. You will be less likely to be searched than if you don’t declare it.

It’s safe to wear your prosthesis on the flight as aircraft cabins are pressurised. If you pack your prosthesis in your main luggage, a few small air bubbles may appear as the luggage hold is not pressurised. But don’t worry, these bubbles will disappear soon after you’re back on the ground and won’t damage your prosthesis.

Have you had surgery recently?

As the plane increases in elevation, changes in air pressure can cause body cavities (wounds) to expand up to 30 percent on a commercial airline.

For this reason, your doctor may recommend avoiding flying for a period of time after your operation. After surgery in general, a wait time of around 2 weeks is advised, but please check with your doctor specifically.

Flying during chemotherapy?

If your white blood cell count is low due to chemotherapy or the cancer itself, your immune system will be too. Consider whether or not you should wear a mask with your doctor – this may also depend on the air quality of your destination.

Travelling with breast cancer: View of sunset from plane window

How to reduce your risk of blood clots

Recent surgery and / or taking the drug tamoxifen can increase the risk of blood clots, especially deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Here’s 4 tips to reduce your risk of blood clots

  • Wear flight socks: Also known as compression stockings, they reduce the risk of DVT. But be sure to get the right size, weight and fit for you. And try not to cross your legs!
  • Exercise: Yes, even while you’re in flight!  It is unwise to remain seated for the duration of your flight and taking a toilet break is not enough… Walk around at least once an hour or stand for periods of time.  Also, make the most of the extra leg room you paid for and do stretching exercises. These stretches can include flexing the calf muscles, stretching thigh muscles and curling and stretching your toes
  • Drink lots of fluids: This does not include alcohol, which can dehydrate and increases the risk of your blood thickening. There will be time for that glass of wine or beer at your destination! Instead, drink plenty of water instead to keep hydrated
  • Massage your muscles: Take a tennis ball to massage your leg muscles by pushing it into your thigh and rolling it up and down your leg. Doing so will help promote circulation

How to reduce your risk of lymphoedema

Put simply lymphoedema is swelling of the arm(s), and common after breast cancer surgery. Using insect repellent to prevent insect bites is key to minimising your risk.

If you’re travelling with breast cancer to a country where quick access to antibiotics is unlikely, you may want to ask your doctor for antibiotics to take with you. But as always, check which medications your destination allows to be imported.

While You’re There

Avoid swimming

You may want to avoid swimming during radiotherapy treatment or soon afterwards.

Your skin is likely to be more sensitive, and swimming pool chemicals can make your skin dry and irritated.

If you’re having chemotherapy you may also be advised to avoid swimming pools by your doctor. Chemotherapy affects your immune system’s ability to fight infection, which might make you more susceptible to any germs in the water.

Be sun safe

Similar to how your skin can be sensitive to water after radiotherapy, it can also be more photosensitive. So try to keep out of the sun especially during the heat of the day and consider sunscreen that has high protection –  SPF 50–60.

Don’t forget it’s also possible to get sunburnt through clothing! And wear loose clothing made of cotton or natural fibres, covering cover any operation scars and radiotherapy sites.

Family jumping for joy on the beach


We hope you found our travelling with breast cancer guide helpful!

If you still need medical travel insurance for your trip, we can help. Compare up to 61 prices online to find the right breast cancer travel insurance for your trip.

The information in this blog post is not intended to replace professional medical advice. It is a general overview of a broad medical care topic. Blog posts are not tailored to one person’s specific medical requirements, diagnosis or treatment. If you do notice symptoms or you require medical advice, you should always consult your doctor or healthcare provider to obtain professional medical help. Read through our disclaimer for more information.

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