Ultrasound and mammography for controls and the importance of turning to a breast center in case of diagnosis: these are two of the key issues addressed by Dr. Corrado Tinterri, director of the Breast Unit of Humanitas, during the live Facebook stream of Obiettivo Salute – Radio 24.
“Unfortunately, breast cancer is on the increase in young people. Once it affected women after menopause, while today 40% of cases occur in women under 50 years of age, with a very strong impact on personal and social life,” the specialist emphasizes.
Ultrasound and Mammography
“It is very important to know if there are any cases of breast cancer in the family; for example, a young woman whose mother has had breast cancer (especially if she too is a young woman) should begin the checks ten years before the standard recommendation. We are pushing to bring forward the age of screening, which has now been reduced to 45 for the first mammogram, but in women with family history it is better to start earlier.
Every age has its controls: for example, the denser young breast is better read with ultrasound, a risk-free examination. It is important to note that the breast changes during the course of life, becoming glandular in youth and adipose in women after menopause. The older we get, the more effective the mammogram is, but this does not alter the fact that this examination can be useful as early as 40 years of age, especially in cases of breast cancer in the family,” says Dr. Tinterri.
The importance of breast centers
A survey by Europa Donna, the movement representing women’s rights in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer, showed that only 14-15% of women interviewed knew a breast center. “An interesting fact, because it is good for women to know the Senology Centers: Centers for the treatment of breast cancer, where women find dedicated specialists to heal better and sooner, often with advanced therapies and appropriate to the stage of disease of each patient. It is advisable to go to centers where many cases are dealt with, where specialists are often dedicated only to breast cancer and where the probability of errors is lower, given the high level of specialization and experience.
To get to know the breast centers of our country, for example, you can refer to the Seno Network, the association of breast centers already active in Italy, which currently counts 136 centers. The key words are multidisciplinary approach: in the Breast Units, in fact, there is collaboration between different specialists such as breast surgeon, medical oncologist, breast radiotherapist, radiologist and pathologist; this guarantees a higher quality of care and a higher survival. One of the many merits of these Centers is the possibility of making specialists available to patients, who would not normally be available, such as the psycho-oncologist or a gynecologist who deals with the preservation of fertility. This is a central issue, because many young women who fall ill have a desire for pregnancy, a legitimate desire, to be preserved, also because getting breast cancer does not mean they cannot have children. The possibility of preserving the eggs in girls who fall ill and therefore have to undergo chemotherapy or hormonal therapies, becomes mandatory because once the treatment is completed you can decide to have children,” emphasizes Dr. Tinterri.
Is self-palpation an instrument of prevention?
“Self-palpation in itself is not an instrument of prevention, but it is important that women become aware of their body, touching the breast in the post-menstrual phase, so as to realize if something changes. This in itself is not enough, it is an important instrument, but it is not enough; we need regular monitoring. Screening campaigns are mammographic, but we can advise young women to have an ultrasound scan so that they can anticipate a possible clinical diagnosis,” the specialist said.
Other topics include the management of metastatic patients, progress in research into new biological drugs and the central role of lifestyle in both prevention and post-disease care.
Watch the full interview with Dr. Tinterri, click here