At Clínica Tambre we give you access to our Breast Unit and comprehensive range of services for breast-related diseases -with particular emphasis on breast cancer-. This unit is led by one of the most prestigious gynaecologists in this speciality field, Dr. Román Santamaría, who has training and experience in:
- Epidemiology and Breast Diseases.
- Anatomical Pathology
- Natural History of Breast Cancer
- Treatment and Management of Benign Breast Diseases
- Medical Oncology
- In general, all related speciality fields
The Breast Unit is equipped with the most advanced technology in diagnostic testing; we offer individualized treatment adapted to each case.
For years Clínica Tambre has been concerned with looking after women’s total health and with the prevention and early detection of breast cancer, which is crucial to ensuring higher patient survival rates.
Don’t forget to go in for annual check-ups.
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Information and questions about breast cancer
What is a breast tumor?
A breast tumour develops when cells from the mammary gland grow in an uncontrolled and disorganised manner, which leads to the formation of a mass that turns into a tumour (benign or malignant). Benign tumours are not cancerous. In malignant tumours (cancer), cancer cells can invade and destroy tissue from other organs.
Types of breast cancer
- Ductal Carcinoma: this begins in the ducts that carry milk from the breast to the nipple (most tumours belong to this type of cancer).
- Lobular Carcinoma: this begins in the lobules or the areas that produce milk.
However, many tumours are also sensitive to oestrogen hormones, which causes tumour growth. On other occasions (although both circumstances may coincide), certain tumours have cells with too many copies of the HER2 gene, which causes them to multiply quickly and makes their response to chemotherapy worse.
Can breast cancer be prevented?
A breast tumour cannot be prevented, but it can be detected in the early stages. Hence the importance of strictly following recommendations for early cancer detection. Early detection of breast cancer greatly increases the chances of treating and curing it.
Is it only detected by mammography?
Nowadays, a mammogram is the best method for detecting breast cancer. It’s true that for young women mammogram results are sometimes difficult to interpret due to the amount and density of their breast tissue. In such cases, other techniques such as nuclear magnetic resonance can be used. An ultrasound can detect a tumour, but it is less effective than either of the other techniques.
When it is suspected that a patient may have breast cancer, a fine needle aspiration (FNA) can be carried out to extract and analyse breast tissue cells which can provide useful information on the presence of cancer. But a breast biopsy is the best way to determine whether there is cancer or not.
Am I at risk?
Breast tumours most frequently appear between the ages of 50 and 60, although it is true that they are increasingly being detected in younger women, starting at age 30.
On the other hand, the probability that a woman develops breast cancer increases if her mother, sister, or daughter has had it. But only 10% of tumours are hereditary.
Diet and lifestyle have a similar influence on the formation of these types of tumours: unhealthy habits and lifestyles lead to a higher risk.
Does the frequency of illness increase?
In absolute terms, yes. But this is probably due to the early detection campaigns that increase the number of women diagnosed.
If I'm diagnosed with breast cancer, will I have to operate?
Treatment will always depend on the type of tumour and how far it has spread. For most tumours the first option is surgery, but in some instances, chemotherapy (neoadjuvant chemotherapy) is used first to reduce the size of the tumour followed by less radical surgery.
Are you going to take off my breast?
In breast tumour surgery, either the whole breast can be removed (mastectomy) or just the tumour. This will depend on the stage and size of the tumour and the age and general health of the women; however, in most cases nowadays, the breast can be conserved.
Early tumour detection makes breast-conserving surgery easier (removal of the tumour while conserving the greatest amount of breast tissue). But it will always be essential to find out (with a biopsy) if there are tumour cells in the axillary lymph nodes in order to be able to remove them. Nowadays there is a procedure called sentinel lymph node biopsy, which consists of removing a single lymphatic node to see if the cancer has spread to the axillary lymph nodes. If this node has tumour cells, the axillary lymph nodes are removed; if not, it won’t be necessary, thus avoiding axillary surgery and its side effects.
When the most appropriate course of action is a mastectomy, a breast reconstruction must be performed, either after its removal or at a later date.
Will I have to do chemotherapy or radiotherapy?
The post-operation treatment will depend on the characteristics of each tumour.
What are the side effects of chemotherapy?
Some of the most common sides effects are hair loss, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation or alterations in the mouth’s mucous membrane. Most of these side effects gradually disappear after treatment ends. Patients may also experience permanent complications such as premature menopause or infertility.
What aftermath does the surgery leave?
It all depends on the type of procedure. Other complications include seromas (build-up of liquid), infections, and abscesses. But the most serious side effect is lymphedema, which is a swelling of the arm caused by the removal of the axillary lymph nodes and for which there is no effective treatment. The use of sentinel lymph node biopsies will cause this side effect to become increasingly less frequent.
Recommendations for the early detection of cancer:
- Annual visits to the gynaecologist (breast screening)
- Patients with risk factors (family history, etc.) should have their first mammogram starting at 35 years old and have one done annually.
- Patients without risk factors should have their first mammogram at 40.
A mammogram is recommended every two years between the ages of 40 and 50.
- From 50 onwards, annually.