Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer seen in women in Romania. Each year, over 8,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in Romania. Most (8 out of 10) are over 50, but younger women may also suffer from this condition.
The first symptom of breast cancer most women notice is a nodule or thickened tissue area at the breast. Most nodules (90%) are not cancerous, but it is always best to check with your family doctor or gynecologist.
Check with your family doctor or gynecologist if you notice any of the following symptoms:
A node or a thickened tissue area on any of the breasts;
A change in size or shape of one or both breasts;
Secretion in any of the nipples (which can present blood);
A nodule or swelling in any of the axes;
Irregularities of the skin of the breasts;
An irritation on or around the nipple;
A change in the appearance of the nipple, as if sinking inside the breast, pain in any breast or any of the axles without being associated with menstruation.
Causes of breast cancer are not fully understood. This means that it is difficult to tell why a woman can develop breast cancer, and another is not.
Some aspects, known as risk factors, can change the likelihood of someone developing breast cancer. There are some factors about which nothing can be done, but other factors can be changed.
The risk of developing breast cancer increases with aging. Breast cancer is more common among women over the age of 50 who have been through menopause. 8 out of 10 cases of breast cancer occur in women over 50 years of age.
For women between 50 and 70 years of age, it is advisable to periodically screen breast cancer screening.
If there are close relatives who have breast cancer or ovarian cancer, you may be at greater risk of developing breast cancer. However, since breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women, it may occur more than once within the same family by chance.
Most cases of breast cancer are not hereditary (it is not genetically transmitted), although some studies have shown that certain genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, may increase the risk of developing both breast and ovarian cancer. These genes may be transmitted from parent to child. A third gene (TP53) is also associated with increased risk of breast cancer.
For example, if you have two or more close relatives in your family (eg mother, sister or daughter) who have had breast cancer less than 50 years of age, the risk of having the same disease is increased. Therefore, it is recommended that you perform a genetic screening to check for the genes that are likely to cause breast cancer. If you are concerned about your family history of breast cancer, we advise you to discuss this with your family doctor.
Previous diagnosis of breast cancer
If you have a history of breast cancer or incipient changes in non-invasive breast cancer cells at breast level, you are at a higher risk of developing cancer again on either the other breast or the same breast.
Breast node benign in a past
A benign breast nodule does not mean you have breast cancer, but some types of nodules can easily increase the risk of it occurring. Certain benign breast tissue changes such as atypical duct hyperplasia (cells that grow abnormally in the ducts) or in situ lobular carcinoma (abnormal cells in the mammary lobes) increase the possibility of breast cancer.
The breasts are made up of thousands of small-sized glands (lobules) that produce milk. This glandular tissue contains a higher mammary cell count compared to other breast tissue, making it more dense. Women with more dense breast tissue may have a higher risk of developing breast cancer because there are more cells that can become cancerous.
Dense breast tissue can make breast implantation (mammography) more difficult to interpret because it makes any abnormal nodules or tissue areas more difficult to detect. Younger women tend to have higher density breasts. With aging, the amount of glandular breast tissue decreases and is replaced by fat so that they become less dense.
Exposure to estrogen
In some cases, breast cancer cells can be stimulated to grow by estrogen, a female hormone. Ovaries, where ova are stored, begin to produce estrogen when puberty is established to regulate menstruation.
The risk of developing breast cancer may slightly increase depending on the amount of estrogen to which the body is exposed. For example, if your first menstrual period was at an early age and the menopause was installed at an advanced age, you were exposed to estrogen for a long time. In the same way, if you do not have children, or if you had children later, the risk of developing breast cancer may increase slightly because estrogen exposure was not interrupted by a pregnancy.
Overweight and obesity
If you have been through menopause and suffer from overweight or obesity, you are at greater risk of developing breast cancer. This is believed to be related to the amount of estrogen in your body, since overweight or post-menopausal obesity causes the production of a higher amount of estrogen.
The risk of developing breast cancer may increase depending on the amount of alcohol you consume. Research shows that for every 200 women who typically consume two alcoholic drinks a day, there are three women with breast cancer compared to women who do not drink alcohol at all.
Exposure to radiation
Certain medical procedures using radiation, such as X-rays and CT examinations (computed tomography), may slightly increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
Hormone replacement therapy (TSH) administered to women with menopause
Hormone replacement therapy (TSH) is associated with a slightly increased risk of developing breast cancer. Both TSH combined therapy and estrogen-only TSH therapy can increase the risk of developing breast cancer, although the risk is a little higher if you use combined TSH.
It is estimated that there would be 19 breast cancer cases for every 1,000 women who have combined TSH for 10 years. The risk continues to increase slightly the more that TSH is administered, but it returns to normal if you stop following this type of therapy.
How to decide on the most effective treatment for breast cancer?
When deciding what is the best treatment for you, doctors will consider the following:
The status and degree of differentiation of your type of cancer (how great it is and how much it has spread);
Your overall health condition;
If you have gone through menopause.
The main treatments for breast cancer are:
You can follow one of these treatments or a combination of these. The type of treatment or combination of treatments will depend on the way the cancer was diagnosed and the stage they are in. Breast cancer diagnosed at screening may be at an early stage, but breast cancer diagnosed when you have symptoms may be at a more advanced stage and require a different treatment. The Oncological Commission will discuss what treatments are best suited and communicate your options.