Breast Cancer Treatments
More than two thirds of breast cancers occur after the age of 50. The number of breast cancers is low in women under the age of 35 and minimal in women under the age of 20.
The existence of familial forms of breast cancer has been known for a long time. Research has revealed several genes predisposing to breast and/or ovarian cancer, the mutated forms of which are transmitted in certain families. The mutation of these genes confers a significant risk of developing breast cancer to women who are carriers. It is estimated that 5% of breast cancers are linked to a genetic predisposition.
Alcohol consumption, sedentary lifestyle and being overweight are also the cause of an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
Finally, the patient’s hormonal history is also an identified risk factor, especially for women who have had their first early period or late menopause, or in the absence of pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Thanks to organized screening and gynecological follow-up, the diagnosis is often made before the appearance of these clinical signs. In any case, in case of doubt, you should consult your doctor or a gynecologist who will examine the anomaly and, if necessary, prescribe additional examinations.
Organized breast cancer screening
From the age of 50, individual screening gives way to organized screening: every two years, all women aged 50 to 74 whose risk of breast cancer is not significantly high (family or personal history, etc.) are invited to perform a mammogram in the accredited radiology center of their choice. This examination is free, with no upfront costs.
When an anomaly is discovered by the patient herself or during a screening examination, various examinations are necessary to confirm or invalidate a diagnosis of breast cancer: clinical examination, mammography, ultrasound, biopsy and analysis of the tumor as well as an extension assessment.
When it comes to diagnosing breast cancer, the gynecologist (but also sometimes a general practitioner or even a midwife) will first carry out a clinical examination of his patient. Careful palpation of the breast can, indeed, be very informative. It allows to evaluate the size, the consistency, the mobility of an anomaly…
When an abnormality is detected on palpation, mammography is systematically prescribed. In some cases, depending on the level of equipment of the imaging center, the mammography can be a tomosynthesis. Instead of taking a two-dimensional image (conventional mammography), tomosynthesis makes it possible to reconstruct an image of the breast by taking three-dimensional images from different angles, thus limiting the effects of superposition of breast structures.
The treatment of breast cancer depends on the nature, location and stage of the disease. Age and general state of health are also important elements taken into account by the medical team.
There are different types of treatments for the management of breast cancer: surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy or even targeted therapies. They can be used alone or in combination and are chosen according to the clinical, biological and genetic characteristics of each tumour.
Living with and after illness
The diagnosis of cancer is a difficult ordeal. The medical team is there to help and guide patients and their families.
A woman learning that she has breast cancer goes through all kinds of emotions, often contradictory. Sometimes sick people and their families experience a feeling of discouragement or revolt. At other times, feelings can range from optimism to despair, or courage to anxiety.
All of these reactions are perfectly normal in people faced with an upheaval in their lives. In general, patients respond better to emotional shock if they can talk about it openly with family or friends.
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