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Advances in breast cancer

26.10.2005


“Early diagnosis guarantees therapeutic success in breast cancer”, claimed doctors Fernando Martínez Regueira and Luis Pina, specialists in de Mammary Pathology at the University Hospital.



Breast cancer is the most common tumour amongst the female population. In recent years its prevalence has increased considerably without the reasons thereof being very clear, although lifestyle changes such as first pregnancy taking place at a later age or the reduction in the period of breast-feeding may play an important role. At the same time, there are other factors that determine the appearance of breast cancer, such as genetic alterations.

Although there is a gradual increase in breast cancer cases, the rates of cure are increasingly greater. Today there is whole range of diagnostic and therapeutic techniques but the most fundamental prevention measure is the examination.


From a technological viewpoint, mammography or screening is still the test for breast cancer, although new techniques especially useful in concrete cases are being incorporated. For example, ecography is proving to give good results as a complement to mammography in patients with non-fat breast density.

Once a lesion is detected, it is essential to carry out a breast biopsy to determine its malignity or otherwise. To this end there are a number of systems that indicate individually, according to the class of lesion, its complexity or the patient’s profile. Notable amongst these are the biopsy techniques with wide needle and vacuum-assisted biopsy. Moreover, there is an Advanced Breast Biopsy Instrumentation (ABBI) that enables the walk-in extirpation of lesions less than two centimetres.

Once a Breast cancer is diagnosed, magnetic resonance is the useful technique for completing the prognosis and determining if there are any more satellite foci of the lesion.

Treatment

Breast cancer treatment is based on four main techniques: surgery, quimiotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal treatment. It is fundamental to know well the extent of the disease so that the treatment can be suitably adapted to each patient.

Currently the surgical approach enables the conservation of the breast in a large number of cases, especially if these patients have previously had quimiotherapy treatment. Quimiotherapy as treatment for breast cancer provides very good results. On the one hand, it reduces the size of the tumour in such a way that it makes surgery more susceptible and, with metastastic disease, enables its control in a chronic form in a significant number of cases.

As regards radiotherapy, the main advance has been to be able to apply partial and intensive radiation, thus significantly reducing the period for sessions. Finally, current hormonal treatment consists in the administration of medication over a period of five years. Nevertheless, some studies conclude that patients showing good results may prolong the treatment for two more years using a different hormonal therapy.

Garazi Andonegi | alfa
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