The breast cancer in its early stages usually causes no symptoms. When it is diagnosed in very early stages it is because the woman participates in screening programs or because opportunistically a mammography has been done as a follow-up of another problem in the breast. However, there are a number of warning signs before which it is highly recommended to go to the gynecologist to rule out the possibility that it is a cancer Test & Diagnosis.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Western women. Approximately 1 in 8 women will develop this disease throughout their lives. According to the Spanish Association against Cancer, in Spain more than 25,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year, this being the first cause of death among Spanish women.
The incidence of breast cancer is increasing slowly throughout the world, probably because on the one hand it is diagnosed more and more early (which increases the number of diagnoses) and on the other hand the aging of the population, which increases the probability of developing breast cancer since age, is a risk factor.
However, breast cancer is one of the few malignant diseases that can be detected early in early stages in which there are very high chances of cure. Hence the importance of annual gynecological examinations, screening mammograms and early diagnosis, which are the most effective tools to fight against the disease.
Suggestive changes of breast cancer
Although, as we have said, breast cancer usually produces no symptoms at first, in some cases the first sign of breast cancer is a lump or swelling of the breast or armpit. Although most of the lumps detected in the breast are not malignant but are benign tumors such as cysts, or adenomas, it is always necessary for a gynecologist specializing in mammary pathology to examine the lump to identify its nature and rule out malignancy.
According to the American Cancer Association, any of the following changes in the breast or underarm may be an indication of breast cancer:
- Lumps, nodules or lumps in the breast or in the armpit.
- Inflammation or changes in the shape or size of the breast or part of it.
- Pain in the breast or nipple.
- Changes in the skin of the breast or in the nipple (peeling, sinking, thickening, color changes…).
- Inversion or sinking of the nipple.
- Nipple discharge other than milk
- Less mobility in some of the breasts when raising the arms.
If you notice any of these symptoms, go as soon as possible to your gynecologist to perform the necessary tests to be able to diagnose if there is a problem. Remember that these symptoms can also appear associated with benign diseases that are not cancer.
The importance of mammograms
The mammogram is the specific test for early diagnosis of breast cancer. It consists of an x-ray of the breast capable of detecting lesions in very early stages of the disease, since it allows detecting lesions in the breast up to two years before they are palpable and when they have not yet spread.
There are two types of mammography:
- Screening mammography (screening in English) performed in women without symptoms, and allows the detection of breast cancer at very early stages of its development. At FIV-Recoletos we follow the recommendations of the American College of Radiology, which recommends making mammograms:
- Every year in women from 40 years old.
- Before age 40 in women with a family history of breast cancer or personal history of neoplastic breast ovarian diseases.
- Diagnostic mammography is performed in women with symptoms of breast disease, when a nodule is palpated, or when screening mammography is not normal. Diagnostic mammography takes more time than screening mammography, since radiographs are made in different positions to adequately study the possible injury.
In our Breast Unit we have specialists with extensive experience in mammary pathology and the latest medical technologies, which allow us to make an early and totally reliable diagnosis, as well as a complete treatment, if needed.