The breast is a symbol of femininity and fertility.
If a woman notices any breast changes (e.g. palpation of lumps), there is no need for panic nor complacency. Breast diseases are divided into benign and malignant. It is important to know that 80% of all palpable nodules are benign.
It is the most common type of cancer in women. 75% of cases occur in women 50 years and older. Risk factors for breast cancer development are:
- family history
- menarche before 12 years of age
- menopause after 50 years of age
- childlessness or the first child born after the age of 30
How breast cancer can be prevented (screening)
Every woman should do breast self-examination once a month and a clinical examination by her physician per year.
Women after 40 years should undergo mammography every 2 years until age 50 and after 50 years the mammogram should be done every year.
If there is suspicion of malignancy after breast examination and mammography the following tests can be done :
- Breast Ultrasound
- Breast MRI
- FNA (samples are taken from the suspected area with the aid of a syringe with fine needle for cytology examination)
- CORE BIOPSY (The only difference with the previous examination is that a larger needle is used so as to obtain a sufficient sample of the suspicious area for biopsy, not cytology)
How do you treat breast cancer?
The primary treatment for breast cancer is surgery.
In most cases the cancer is excised with a small rim of healthy tissue around so as to maintain the shape and the appearance of the breast. In later stages of cancer the volume of the removed tissue is greater. Since breast cancer cells first migrate to the lymph nodes of the armpit, the surgeon must check the armpit during surgery for possible metastasis . Depending on the type and the stage of breast cancer treatment may also include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy or a combination of the above treatments.