OROctober is the month dedicated to breast cancer prevention. An important opportunity to get to know the great ones progress made in recent years by science but also to remind women the importance of undergoing periodic checks which can prove to be fundamental in the fight against this pathology. Breast cancer, only in Italy, it affects around 50,000 people each year and it represents the most frequent cancer among women but also, fortunately, the one she has very high cure rates thanks to early diagnosis and the advancement of treatments, which are increasingly effective and targeted.
Breast cancer: the importance of early diagnosis
«Great progress has been made in the field of prevention and early diagnosis – he explains Paola Martinoni, oncologist surgeon and founder of Libellule Onlus Associationborn in 2015 at the suggestion and support of Professor Umberto Veronesi, to support women who have undergone breast or genital surgery – women, because they are informed and sensitized, undergo more checks and thanks to ultrasound scans, visits and mammograms, today we can count on one early diagnosis“.
Being able to identify the tumor in its early stage, in fact, can make more and more of the difference.
“Provided that she regularly undergoes mammography and ultrasound, today women no longer have to know how to feel their breasts because the lump we have to look for shouldn’t even be palpable – underlines Paola Martinoni – Today we can identify microcalcifications or small nodules of 3 or 4 millimeters, visible ultrasonographically and then, subjected to biopsy, allow us to make a diagnosis. If we consider that on average a tumor grows by about 1 and a half centimeters per year, taking it by 4 millimeters really means identifying it in the initial stage. At that point, the therapy that is proposed to the patient is of the preventive type. In the case of such small tumors, survival reaches up to 97%. The longer you wait, however, the more time the tumor has time to detach from the site of origin and hit other organs, giving rise to metastases ».
Breast cancer: increasingly targeted therapies
In addition to early diagnosis, science has made huge strides in therapiesdeveloping new chemotherapy protocols and introducing new ones specific therapies for the different types of breast cancer that act on the molecular mechanisms underlying the disease.
“The study of cancer cells has made it possible to identify their characteristics and specificity – explains Paola Martinoni – and this has made it possible to formulate nnew drugs that help a lot in the treatment but also in the prevention of a relapse. Biological drugs such as monoclonal antibodies have made it possible to offer an increasingly targeted and specific therapy, with lower side effects“.
Advances in Surgery
At the same time, surgery has also made great progress, becoming less invasive and thus sparing tissues and organs.
«Until some time ago the surgery was a mastectomy, with devastating effects on women – explains the Founder of the Libellule Association -. Today, however, the goal is to make sure that the woman retains her femininity without being defaced. Surgeon oncologist and plastic surgeon work as a team to guarantee women also a good aesthetic result, sometimes even better than before the cancer, a factor that we often stress with women to help them cope and overcome the problem. Not only that, from an aesthetic point of view, the evolution of lipofilling has also given new possibilities: in the points where the skin adheres a lot to the prosthesis, making it visible, it is now possible to intervene by taking a small amount of fat from the abdomen or hips to inject into the point. to be ‘filled’ ».
The great challenge for the future
If important results have already been achieved, what is the objective of the research today?
«The big challenge would be that of no longer having to resort to surgery – replies Paola Martinoni – no longer having to remove something sick, developing new therapies. Research must go on in the study and classification of the tumor to develop more and more targeted therapies ».
Breast cancer: the importance of prevention
There prevention however, the fundamental condition remains, especially considering that, if on the one hand the chances of survival have increased, on the other hand the incidence of breast cancer has also increased, with an increase in cases of 1% every year.
«We must remember that breast cancer it can also affect young peopleeven if more rarely, and for this reason it is right to start prevention early – underlines Paola Martinoni – Even though it is a tumor that is curable today, it can have a devastating impact on a woman because it affects her on what is a symbol of her femininity, it involves hormonal alterations that affect the sexual sphere and, last but not least, it affects fertility. Undergoing periodic checks is also of vital importance because that of the breast it is a tumor that does not give symptoms. Furthermore, it is important to remember that prevention is certainly everyone’s right but also a civic duty towards public health, given the high costs of therapies ».
The right support for women
Considering the psychological impact that breast cancer can have on a woman’s life, adequate support is of crucial importance.
The Libellule Onlus Association founded by Paola Martinoni, who has a long experience at the Italian League for the Fight against Cancer, was born with the intention of providing a concrete response to the often underestimated psychological problems facing women who have undergone breast or genital surgery.
«As an Association we help women along the way, either in the prevention and in the follow-up phase – concludes Martinoni – For every woman there is a guided path of prevention and control that awaits her, with dedicated qualified medical staff. Great importance is also given to psychological support and moments of leisure, so that women can have a different attitude towards the diseasemore positive and more confident in the future ».
In gallery above, here are all the initiatives to be known for supporting research and prevention.
iO Donna © REPRODUCTION RESERVED