Focus on breast cancer Focus on breast cancer

According to the WHO, October 19 is the international day against breast cancer. Having appropriate check-ups and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is vital in preventing this disease.

advisor
Catalina Quintero
Genetic counselor in cancer, master’s degree in Molecular Oncology, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare

Genetic counselor Catalina Quintero, with a master’s degree in Molecular Oncology, indicates that “all women have three tools for early diagnosis: self-examination, annual visit to the doctor, and breast imaging, such as mammography and ultrasound.” Self-examination should be done monthly between the fifth and seventh day after menstruation, when the breast tissue is softer. “This should not be done to look for abnormalities, but it should be a practice to recognize one’s own anatomy, so that when there is something abnormal, it can be easily identified,” reiterates the specialist. It is advisable to only do it once per month, because depending on the day of the menstrual cycle, the breast can feel differently, causing unnecessary alarm. Reasons for immediate consultation are signs and symptoms such as palpable masses and nodules (in the breast or armpit), changes in the skin: thickening, redness, or sinking, and fluid coming out of the nipple, either clear or bloody. Because of the pandemic, many people delayed their checkups and tests. The European Society of Oncology recommends prioritizing consultations when there are suspicious signs and when there is already a diagnosis of breast cancer and unusual situations arise.

Guide to self-examination

  • Five minutes, two steps, and four positions:
  • Observation: in front of the mirror. First put your hands behind your head and then at your waist, pressing into the center.
  • Touching: recommended when showering. With your hand behind your head, feel your breast and armpit in a circular form from the external part to the internal part, in a clockwise direction. Repeat laying down.

18 years old is the recommended age for starting self-examinations. From 30, a yearly medical checkup, and starting at 50, mammograms are recommended, however, it can be started earlier, depending on medical criteria.

Follow-up

Simple cysts and fibroadenomas are benign, even common conditions that do not usually predispose cancer. “Just because they are benign does not mean they should not be managed and controlled,” clarifies Quintero. Attention should be paid to risk factors such as a family history of cancer, breast density (tissue composition), and previous biopsies that have shown atypia.

25 % IN REDUCTION OF BREAST CANCER MORTALITY HAS BEEN ACHIEVED WITH MAMMOGRAMS. THIS IS CAPABLE OF DETECTING LESIONS OF 0.3mm.

13,380 NEW CASES OF BREAST CANCER OCCUR ANNUALLY IN THE COUNTRY. STATISTIC FROM THE INTERNATIONAL AGENCY FOR CANCER RESEARCH (2018).

Primary prevention

It involves lifestyle changes that help reduce the risk of developing the disease. A diet with more fruit and vegetables and less saturated fat and red meat. Practice regular physical activity (150 minutes per week is recommended by the WHO). Also, try to maintain a healthy weight. Avoid consuming tobacco and reduce alcohol intake.