Breast cancer: how to detect it in time, and what are the symptoms?
Cancer. A diagnosis that no-one wants to hear in their life. Unfortunately, carcinogens are very common and affect a large section of the population. Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women. As many as 6,000 women leave the doctor’s surgery with this diagnosis every year. A tumour is formed from cells whose original function has been altered and is out of control. It can also penetrate other parts of the body and create what are known as metastases. How does it manifest itself, and what can you do to prevent it?
With cancer, the cause is often unknown. Women over the age of forty are most at risk, but this is not a rule; tumours can also occur in younger women. Another factor is genetics. If a tumour has appeared in a close relative such as one's mother or grandmother, the chance of developing one yourself is up to twice as high.
Breast cancer manifests itself in several ways. One of the most well-known symptoms is a lump in the breast, which a woman can feel herself. It is recommended that women perform a so-called breast self-examination once a month to check that everything is OK. Instructions on how to properly examine yourself can be found, for example, here. Other symptoms include differing size of breasts, a discharge from the nipple, or breast pain. These symptoms do not necessarily mean a tumour; they can also indicate hormonal changes during a menstrual cycle. However, it is important to monitor them and, in case of doubt, to see a doctor.
As already mentioned, early diagnosis is essential. At preventive gynaecological examinations the doctor performs breast examinations to rule out tumours. If something does not seem right, further examinations – ultrasound or mammography – follow. Women over the age of forty-five are entitled to a free mammogram – an X-ray of the breast using a weak beam – every two years. If there is any predisposition in the family, it is advisable to undergo a mammographic examination earlier as a self-payer. The gynaecologist will advise you when choosing an examination site.
If the tumour has not spread and does not metastasise, it is usually removed surgically. The doctors choose the best possible method depending on the size and location of the tumour, because the procedure is a very radical one for a woman's body. Other options include, for example, chemotherapy, which entails a large number of side effects. Other methods include hormonal or biological treatment. Everything depends on the condition and size of the tumour, and the doctor's assessment of what is most suitable for the woman.
One of the most important preventive steps is self-examination of the breasts at least once a month. In addition, a healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet, adequate exercise, reduced cigarettes and alcohol, and maintaining an appropriate weight can help reduce risk, as obesity is a risk factor.
With cancer, it's a matter of time, as early diagnosis is crucial. Therefore, great emphasis is placed on compliance with preventive gynaecological examinations. In the case of diagnosis of breast cancer, women are provided with all information and treatment options, as well as psychological assistance and therapy. Although challenging, the right mind-set and desire to fight are crucial at this time.
*This article is translated from Czech original to English language by translation agency Marvel, s. r. o.