In Peru, approximately 7,000 new cases of breast cancer are registered each year, claiming the lives of approximately 1,800 women. Approximately 20 women are diagnosed every day, of which at least 5 do not survive. Seventy percent of cases are detected in advanced stages, while only 30 percent are diagnosed early. Dr. Steffi Gonzales, Breast specialist of our clinic, gives us valuable information about the exams we should perform to prevent breast cancer.
Why is breast self-examination important?
- Breast self-examination saves lives. It should be performed from the age of 20, 10 days after the onset of menstruation, to identify early if something is wrong with the breasts and does not take even 10 minutes. It does not replace clinical tests performed by a physician or screening mammography.
- The purpose of the self-exam is for women to become familiar with their breasts to quickly detect any breast changes such as a lump, redness, or abnormal nipple discharge. Postmenopausal women should perform breast self-examination on the same day of each month. For example, on the 1st, 15th, or whatever day they prefer.
- Each woman is different and there may be variations in the recommendations for the care of their health, depending on their medical history and individual risk factors. For this reason, it is recommended that after the age of 30, women should consult a breast specialist to rule out any anomaly in a personalized manner.
When and in which cases can breast imaging studies be performed?
- Screening mammography is advised on an annual basis starting at age 40 and continuing throughout life. However, if there is a family history of breast or ovarian cancer in first-degree relatives (mother, sister or daughter) it should be done at age 35.
- Breast ultrasound is often performed as an adjunct to mammography, especially in young women or in cases where additional evaluation is required. The periodicity varies according to the clinical situation of the individual and specific medical indications.
- Breast MRI is reserved for women with a very high risk of developing breast cancer, such as those with a significant family history or known genetic mutations. The recommended regularity depends on individual risk factors and the specialist’s recommendations.
During the menopausal or climacteric transition, many women experience physical and hormonal changes that can affect the health of their breasts. Therefore, it is important that they continue to perform breast self-exams, lead a healthy lifestyle, control their weight, have a screening mammogram, and visit their Breast specialist regularly.
Dr. Steffi Gonzales
Breast specialist at Clínica Ricardo Palma