In 2018 there were approximately 52 thousand new cases of women affected by breast cancer, almost 2000 more than the previous year: one woman in eight is likely to become ill but although the increase in incidence, the survival also increases. Only 87% of women with breast cancer survive five years after diagnosis.
When the disease is diagnosed and recognized prematurely, more than 95% of cases survive.
Dr. Alberto Testori, Head of Breast Unit at Humanitas Hospital, talked about it in an interview, also reminding us of the importance of early diagnosis and prevention.
Screening between 45 and 74 years of age in Lombardy
“New and more cases of cancer are found because nowadays women are more sensitized to undergo controls, including younger women who, not being yet involved in screening, undergo visits and controls independently”, explained Professor Testori. Confirming the importance of early diagnosis, “in Lombardy, the screening was brought forward to 45 years of age: before the age group indicated was between 50 and 69 years, from this year we start from 45 up to 74 years”.
“From breast cancer you heal – clarified Testori – the important thing is to never lose sight of prevention”.
Self-palpation and controls: recognize the first alarm bells
“In many cases the woman notices a suspicious breast lump, maybe after a shower or through the mirror from where the investigations begin – explained the doctor -, we always recommend self-palpation from 25 years, after 30 years of age we recommend an annual ultrasound check, while from 40 years of age the mammography.
After having recognized the nodule, the doctor is going to perform a needle biopsy to understand the biological characteristics of the tumor, then to proceed with an ultrasound of the abdomen and chest plates in order to check the lungs as well as the other organs of the chest and, depending on the aggressiveness, eventually there is also a bone scentigraphy, a tac or a pet”, said Testori.
Surgical intervention: conservative or mastectomy
In the case in which the doctor decides that surgery is necessary, he will choose whether to follow a conservative operation or if it is necessary instead a mastectomy, which is performed by saving the nipple, areola and skin and also inserting any prosthesis during the same operation.
The status of the research
“The research is currently at an excellent stage: aims to discover both new chemotherapeutic drugs and biological, aimed at certain diseases with particular characteristics destined to certain types of tumors”, clarified the surgeon.