It would be so nice if we could! But, unfortunately, there is no prevention for breast cancer as there is for the cervix, for example. That is why we need to invest in early diagnosis and in the generation and dissemination of adequate information about what is the most common cancer and the one with the highest mortality rate in Brazilian women. The Inca estimates 66,280 new cases of breast cancer per year.
Pink October intends to bring visibility to the disease, which has a cure rate of almost 90% when diagnosed early. Its impact on women’s mental health and quality of life is enormous and treatment at an early stage minimizes this damage. This idea came about in 1991 when the Susan G Komen Foundation sponsored a Race for the Cure in New York and gave all participants a pink bow. In 1997, other American cities promoted actions aimed at breast cancer in October, with the iconic pink bow as a symbol. Brazil joined this movement in 2002, when the Ibirapuera Obelisk was dyed pink for the first time. As of 2008, Cristo Redentor, in Rio de Janeiro, also dresses as Rosa to draw everyone’s attention to the need for preventive actions, access to means for early diagnosis and adequate treatment of breast cancer.
What can we do to reduce the chance of having the disease? Healthy habits, once again. All cancer depends on a genetic basis, a “predisposition” and environmental factors that can produce cell changes, mutations, which generate this disorder called cancer.
The most important risk factors are:
– previous chest radiotherapy
– not having children
– early onset of menstruation
– late menopause
– alcohol intake,
– sedentary lifestyle,
– personal history of breast cancer,
– hormone replacement (time, dose and dependent type.)
Family inheritance matters mainly the maternal lineage. And if the cancer was in young women, the association with inheritance is even more worrying. Ovarian and pancreatic cancer cases should also be considered.
Other population data tell us that white, Western women are at higher risk.
And medicine? Any to prevent cancer?
In patients identified as at high risk for breast cancer because they carry some mutation, especially in the BRCA1 and 2 genes, or diagnosed with atypical hyperplasia, which is a lesion considered pre-malignant, the use of a drug called Tamoxifen which is an estrogen receptor blocker.
And surgery? Can you help?
Sometimes we recommend preventive removal of the breasts, the so-called prophylactic adenomastectomy, which normally preserves the areola and breast papilla. It must be carefully decided by the breast specialist or oncologist and the patient.
Well, since breast cancer cannot be avoided, it remains for us to invest in early diagnosis and in the proper treatment of lesions considered precursors.
The main test for tracking the disease is mammography, which must be performed after 40 years of age. In patients with a worrisome family history of breast cancer, a mammogram should be ordered at age 35 years.
Ultrasonography is a complementary exam to the physical examination and to the mammogram, especially in young women or women with dense breasts. We also have nuclear magnetic resonance, which is very important in planning conservative surgeries, in diagnosing young women or women with breast implants. Oh, and don’t forget about breast self-examination, especially in women who, because they are young, do not yet have a mammogram. It should preferably be done lying down, in the post-menstrual phase. The breast exam is part of the gynecological exam and should be performed at least once a year.
And the Pink October, doctor, what does it mean?
A reminder for all of us. We must always take care of our health, but if October arrives and your exams are not up to date, schedule your gynecologist. Don’t wait to see a lump on breast self-examination before seeing a doctor. The chance of cure and a more conservative surgery depends on early diagnosis. Don’t waste this chance!
*About the author
Luciene Miranda Barduco, a physician graduated from USP, a Trevoo collaborator, remains passionate about her specialty, gynecology and obstetrics. Then he discovered mastology and, recently, sexology. Mariana’s doctor, wife, mother and she loves it all a lot!
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Doctor Jairo Website