Early Detection of Breast Cancer Saves Lives


Knowing the symptoms of breast cancer, which is the most common type of cancer in women, and catching breast cancer at an early stage are very important for the success of the treatment. When diagnosed early, the chance of surviving this disease is high, and breast cancer diagnosed early can be completely cured. What are the most important risk factors for breast cancer? Is every palpable mass in the breast cancer? Does bloody nipple discharge mean cancer? Is the breast removed from every patient diagnosed with breast cancer? How is the treatment strategy determined in breast cancer?

Prof. from Yeni Yüzyıl University Gaziosmanpaşa Hospital, Department of General Surgery. Dr. Deniz Böler answered the questions about Breast Cancer.

What are the most important risk factors for breast cancer?

Age is the most important absolute risk factor for breast cancer. The majority of breast cancers are seen in women over the age of 45, and this risk increases in parallel with age. However, it should not be forgotten that breast cancer can be seen in younger patients (including those in their twenties).

Especially, having breast and/or ovarian cancer in a first degree relative (mother, grandmother, aunt, sister) increases the risk of breast cancer. In recent years, other types of cancer such as breast, prostate, pancreatic and stomach cancer may also increase in other family members such as father, uncle and uncle. For this reason, it is important for women with a large family burden of cancer to receive genetic counseling.

In addition, early menstruation, late menopause, not having a child and not breastfeeding, taking hormone replacement therapy after menopause without control, having previously received radiation therapy to the chest wall for another reason, sedentary lifestyle and obesity are other important risk factors. Weight gain, especially after menopause, significantly increases the risk of breast cancer.

The situation that should not be ignored in breast cancer: More than 75% of women with breast cancer do not have any of the known risk factors. Therefore, regular follow-up and early diagnosis is the only way to beat breast cancer.

Is every palpable mass in the breast cancer?

Every lump in the breast does not mean that you have cancer. Formations such as fibroadenoma, fibrocyst, hamartoma can also be noticed as a mass. For a definitive diagnosis and appropriate treatment, it is important to consult a breast surgeon without wasting time and have the necessary tests done.

Does bloody nipple discharge mean cancer?

Nipple discharge can take various forms. The woman with bloody nipple discharge should be evaluated very carefully. Sometimes bloody nipple discharge can be the first and only symptom of breast cancer. On the other hand, the most common cause of bloody nipple discharge is benign formations called intraductal papillomas.

Does breast cancer occur in women who do not have a family history of breast cancer?

More than 80% of women with breast cancer do not have a family history of cancer. Women who do not have a family history of breast cancer can also get breast cancer. For this reason, it is very important to perform screening, examination and examinations even if there are no complaints.

Is the breast removed from every patient diagnosed with breast cancer?

Many details such as the size and location of the tumor, the number of foci of the tumor, the hereditary risk factors of the patient, whether or not he can receive radiation therapy, cosmetic results, the patient's expectation and desire are evaluated when making the decision to perform mastectomy (surgery in which the entire breast tissue is removed) or breast-conserving surgery. There are also surgical options such as removing the entire breast tissue while preserving the nipple and breast skin, restructuring the breast with the patient's own tissue or silicone implants. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the greater the chance of breast protection and treatment options.

How is the treatment strategy determined in breast cancer?

Treatment planning is made according to both “cancer treatment principles” and personal choices.

  • Biological and molecular type of breast cancer
  • Stage of cancer
  • The patient's general health, age, and other medical conditions
  • personal preferences,

factors that play a role in treatment planning.

Breast cancer treatment is carried out with a multidisciplinary approach (physicians from different fields of expertise in the treatment stages of breast cancer decide together and manage the process) and very successful results are obtained. Treatment offered or administered to another patient may therefore not be suitable for the other patient. Patients should therefore not compare their condition with other patients.

Is breast conserving surgery only applied to young patients?

Breast conserving surgery can be applied not only to young patients, but also to patients of all ages. The type of surgery to be performed on the breast is not decided according to the age of the patient, but according to the size of the tumor, its location, the tumor/breast ratio, whether it is unifocal and other factors such as patient request. The important thing is to treat the patient by performing the smallest surgical intervention that causes the least tissue damage, without compromising the principles of cancer treatment.

Does every patient who has surgery for breast cancer have to receive chemotherapy?

Genomic testing may be recommended for selected patients with small tumors as a result of surgical staging, along with detailed pathological and molecular examination of the surgically removed tumor. Patients who are found to be at low risk as a result of these tests can be followed up without chemotherapy.

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