How to detect breast cancer?

Breast cancer, also called mammary carcinoma in medical jargon, is the most common form of cancer in women. After menopause, the risk of developing breast cancer increases. Younger women can also be affected. Screening is important because the chances of curing breast cancer are significantly better at an early stage of the disease.

Appearance and causes

Breast cancer begins with an uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the mammary gland. It often takes several years before the tumor reaches a sufficient size to be palpable or identifiable.

The precise causes of breast cancer remain poorly understood. The hereditary factor, the fact of not having had a child, hormonal therapy during menopause and being overweight are all factors correlating with an increased risk of breast cancer. If there are several cases of breast cancer in the family, it is advisable to carry out genetic testing. Women carrying a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene are in fact exposed to a very high risk of contracting the disease.

A distinction is mainly made based on the biological properties of cancer cells. It is particularly important to identify hormone-sensitive forms of breast cancer and HER2-positive breast cancers. This plays a determining role in the choice of treatment.

What tests are used to screen for breast cancer?

Every woman should self-examine her breasts once a month. This is the simplest method of identifying any changes in the breasts (At an early stage, this cancer usually causes few or no symptoms. Any changes in the breasts should therefore be checked out by a doctor for that possible breast cancer is detected as early as possible. Lumps or hardening of the breast, changes in the nipples, nipple discharge or any change in the shape of the breast may all be indications of breast cancer. From the age of 50, it is recommended to carry out regular screening examinations by mammography.

Mammography is the main test in the diagnosis of breast cancer. It allows breast cancer to be detected at a very early stage. However, any suspicious changes seen during a mammogram do not necessarily indicate the presence of breast cancer. It is therefore essential, in case of suspicion, to confirm the diagnosis by performing a biopsy .

Treatment for breast cancer varies depending on its type and stage of the disease:

  • Hormone-sensitive breast cancers are treated with antihormonal therapy.
  • HER2-positive breast cancers are treated with anti-HER2 drugs.
  • Before drug treatment, the tumor is generally resected. Today, surgery generally preserves the breast. A mastectomy is only necessary in rare cases. After the procedure, the patient usually undergoes radiotherapy.

Source :  © 2021 Hirslanden Private Clinic Group