In recent years we have witnessed great progress in the fight against breast cancer. One of the most important advances consists in the rise in awareness of women regarding early detection, in the knowledge that we have at our disposal diagnostic and therapeutic resources unimaginable just a few years ago and which are continually being developed.
Main mammary pathologies
The main points concerning mammary pathology can be summarized as follows:
- Malformations. These concern the defective development of the breast, and include conditions such as the absence of the mammary gland (agenesis), displacement of the gland from its normal position (heterotopia) or the presence of more mammary glands (extranumerary glands).
- Inflammation. Inflammation of different types may occur in the breast (caused by infection, by changes in the immune system or by mechanical agents), and may develop acutely or chronically.
- Benign tumours. Among these we may mention diagnosed hyperplasia (increase in the number of cells) and metaplasia (the replacement of differentiated cells by other mature cells but in a different location).
- Malignant tumours. Breast cancer is the disease most feared by women, although cardiovascular diseases are a more frequent cause of death than cancer. After lung cancer, breast cancer is the second most frequent cause of death among women as a result of some type of cancer.
First symptoms of breast cancer
- A secretion through the nipple, either white in colour or tinged with blood
- Inward retraction of the nipple
- Change in the shape of the breast
- Changes in the skin of the breast
- Appearance of reddish area on the skin of the breast
There exist benign processes that may account for these first symptoms, such as benign cysts, galactoceles, fibroadenomas, infections, traumatism, calcium deposits, etc.
When should you see a specialist?
While most of the above-mentioned changes indicating first symptoms may be due to benign processes, an accurate and early assessment of the case is vital. Given any change in the skin, the nipple, the shape of the breast or any type of secretion through the nipple, you should see your specialist without delay. He or she will carry out an examination with the wide range of diagnostic means we have at our disposal, as well as providing you with the most appropriate follow-up programme for your individual case (based on age, medical record, previous examinations, etc.).