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Travelling safely with Breast Cancer

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.

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.

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, consider 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.

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 are 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.

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.

Breast Cancer Travel Insurance by AllClear

For peace of mind on every journey, you take, discover Breast Cancer Travel Insurance by AllClear.

Benefits of AllClear Cover

Gold Gold Plus Platinum
Emergency medical expenses and Repatriation costs Up to £10m Up to £15m Up to £15m
Cancellation* and Curtailment Up to £2k Up to £15k Up to £25k
Extended cover 30 days FREE 30 days FREE 30 days FREE
Friend or relative to travel from your home area to stay with you if you fall ill with Covid-19 Up to £2k Up to £2k Up to £2k
Travel Delay Up to £100 Up to £350 Up to £500
Recuperation stay
Cost of return flight due to COVID-19
Personal Belongings Up to £2k Up to £2.5k Up to £3k
Personal liability Up to £2m Up to £2m Up to £2m
Legal protection cover Up to £50k Up to £50k Up to £100k
* If you buy a policy which includes cancellation cover
All these figures are per person and per trip

Planning and protecting your holiday abroad

Things to know before you go:
  • Remember to check the latest travel advice from the FCDO for your destination. You will have no cover if you choose to travel against FCDO advice, unless that advice relates specifically to Covid-19 (check our Covid FAQs  for more details)
  • Check any entry requirements and quarantine requirements for your chosen destination
  • Choose a Travel Insurance policy that includes Covid-19 Cover
  • For information on how Covid might affect your trip, visit our dedicated FAQs page

Simple 3 step quote process

1. Call us or click a quote button on our site

Once you are ready to start the quote process, the first step is to provide your personal details and information about your holiday plans.

2. Complete our simple medical screening process

You then declare the medical conditions for you (and any other travellers) and answer the specifically designed medical questions.

3. Get your quotes

You will then get your quotes and can either proceed to buy, or save your quote, at this stage.

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.

Author notes

Written by Lydia Crispin, MA Content Creator at AllClear
Edited by Letitia Smith, M.Sc. Content Manager at AllClear

[1] Based on Trustpilot reviews of all companies in the Travel Insurance Company category that have over 25,000 reviews as of January 2022.

^Discount applies to the base price of AllClear branded travel insurance policies purchased through our Call Center only and does not apply to any premium generated to cover medical conditions or optional extras. This discount cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.