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SCREENING FOR BREAST CANCER

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  • Breast can is one of the most common cancers affecting women and 1 in 8 women are likely to develop cancer at some stage in their life.
  •  Screening tests are tests that are done in apparently healthy individuals. These tests are done to detect cancer early so that the treatment and management is easy and the outcome is better
  • Self-examination of the breast is an important and useful step in the screening of breast cancers.
  • There are five steps for the self-examination of the breast- This involves observing the breast in the mirror and looking for a change in shape, size, nipple discharge, soreness or redness of the skin of the breast or puckering of the skin or retraction of the nipple. This is followed by raising the arm and looking for similar signs. The breast is self-palpated while lying down and standing up to feel for any lumps or irregularity.
  • The second screening technique is Screening Mammogram. Screening mammograms are recommended every year for women over 40 years. The mammograms may be started at an early age if the risk of getting breast cancer is high.
  • The mammography procedure is noninvasive and takes 15 to 20 minutes.
  • MRI Mammography- MRI mammography is done for women who have dense breasts or are at a higher risk of getting breast cancer due to a very strong genetic predisposition or family history
  • Ultrasound itself is not used as a screening test but may be used in conjunction with mammography. Ultrasound is particularly useful in younger women, less than 30 years of age and especially in the case of dense breasts were interpreting a mammogram may be difficult.
  • There are certain proteins in the blood that are increased in breast cancers and the measurement of these can help during the treatment of breast cancer.
  • CA 15.3 is high in breast cancers and high levels will indicate that the patient should be further evaluated.
  • TRU -QUANT and CA 27.29 are also increased in breast cancers.
  • CA 125 is primarily and ovarian cancer marker but may be increased in recurrent breast cancers
  • Circulating Tumour Cells – There are newer and advanced methods by which one can measure the circulating tumor cells in the blood. These high numbers of circulating tumor cells will help not only in diagnosing but also in monitoring the treatment of breast cancer.
  • People who have a strong family history can also get Broad Molecular Profiling tests done. These tests are also known as the genomic tests and they look for fault or mutations in the DNA or the genetic material, these fault s can lead to cancers’ 1 and BRCA 2 mutations are commonly inherited.
  • People who have a strong family history are advised BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene mutation studies and if a pathogenic mutation is found they are kept under stricter surveillance as they are highly likely to have cancer in their lifetime
  • Screening for breast cancer allows early diagnosis and treatment preventing morbidity and mortality due to this disease.

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