Early detection of breast cancer is important because treatment outcomes are better when the cancer is found early. What should you know and do to make sure that possible breast cancer is detected early?
In Finland, one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Although breast cancer is so common, the prognosis in Finland is good. As individuals, we can influence the stage at which breast cancer is found. A breast cancer that is detected at an early stage before it has had time to metastasize, is now fully treatable in Finland.
Lifestyle and Breast Cancer Prevention
A healthy lifestyle can help prevent breast cancer. A good lifestyle includes a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, getting enough exercise and staying within healthy weight limits. Alcohol is a major risk factor for breast cancer and even low level of alcohol consumption increases the risk of breast cancer. Being overweight is also a major risk factor for breast cancer. A balanced diet can support other measures in overcoming breast cancer.
Even with a healthy lifestyle, breast cancer can still occur, as some breast cancers are linked to ageing and genetic factors. Breast cancer often gives warning signs, such as a lump in the breast. However, sometimes breast cancer can be completely asymptomatic in the early stages.
Means of Early Detection of Breast Cancer
To detect breast cancer, it is worth participating in national screening programmes. In Finland, all women aged 50-69 are offered a free mammogram, or breast X-ray, every two years. Indeed, half of all breast cancer diagnoses are found by screening mammography before a woman has noticed any lump in her breast. Mammography finds the tumour much smaller than is possible by feeling it with your fingers. However, it is worth checking your own breasts between mammograms to detect any clear changes in the breasts.
In some cases, for example, genetic predisposition, it is worth starting examinations for early detection of breast cancer, such as mammography, before the national screening programme.
Clinic Helena offers a comprehensive range of services to support early detection of breast cancer:
- clinical examination
- ultrasound examination
- Breast MRI
- needle biopsies
We offer immediate access to examinations and appointments with a breast cancer specialist. For mammography and ultrasound, a referral is required and can be obtained from us.
Diagnostics to Support Early Detection
If the first examinations find a reason to suspect breast cancer, further investigations are needed. These are usually imaging studies; for example, breast MRI. In some cases, a biopsy is needed, where a small sample of breast tissue is taken with a needle for microscopic examination. A biopsy is the standard method used to determine whether a breast is cancerous or benign.
If the biopsy results suggest cancer, the next step is to check whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This may include gamma imaging, an ultrasound scan of the abdomen and breasts or a CT scan.
Once the presence and spread of breast cancer have been confirmed, the doctor will design an individualised treatment plan. Treatment may include surgery, radiotherapy, cytostatics and hormone therapy, or a combination of them. The treatment decision depends on many factors, including the type of cancer, how far it has spread and the patient’s general health.
Breast Cancer Outcomes and the Importance of Early Detection
In Finland, breast cancer treatment outcomes are excellent by international standards. The majority of women with breast cancer are cured. However, the prognosis for late detection or advanced breast cancer is worse, which makes early detection of breast cancer particularly important.
It is worth remembering that although breast cancer is more common in older women, it can occur at any age. All women, regardless of age, family background or lifestyle, can develop breast cancer. This is why it is important to recognise the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and to contact your doctor if you notice any changes in your breasts.
Breast cancer can also occur in men, but it is much less common. Male breast cancer is often genetic, often involving a change in the BRCA2 gene. Male breast cancer is often found late because the disease is rare and can be difficult to detect.
There are many factors involved in the early detection and treatment of breast cancer, but the most effective way to prevent progression is regular screening and active self-monitoring.
Take Care of Yourself
Don’t hesitate to start taking good care of yourself. If you have any concerns or would like more information about breast cancer treatment, please contact Clinic Helena. Our dedicated team is ready to help and guide you in planning your treatment. Call us on +358 442378021 or email us at email@example.com. Put your wellbeing first today.