October, Gynaecological Cancer Prevention Month
The two most commonly found malignant tumours in women are from cervical cancer and breast cancer. Early diagnosis of cervical cancer is possible due to first and secondary prevention techniques (vaccination and Pap smear). Breast cancer is still detected through radiological screening (mammograms).
The increased cases of breast cancer in recent decades have been especially evident in developed countries; but it is also true that there have been fewer deaths due to this cause. This is because of early-stage diagnosis of small tumours before they reach other parts of the body, which makes treatment simpler and improves the prognosis.
There are several risk factors leading to the development of this type of cancer. Some of them are clear and proven, such as genetic or family-related factors, medical history of this type of cancer, lack of offspring or age. Other risk factors may be: lifestyle, diet or certain types of other treatments.
Mammography is the most specific screening technique for breast cancer. Its advantages have placed it among the leading diagnostic techniques and it’s best to not fear the potential danger represented by the radiation.
The frequency of mammograms is still debatable and depends on each country and its state programmes. However, it is important to follow the intervals recommended for both low-risk populations and at-risk women.
In conclusion, if history has proven that it’s better to prevent than to cure, then the best example is represented by these two tumours in women. Regular gynaecological check-ups are the best advice we can offer women.
Dr. Eduardo Vilaplana, gynaecologist of Instituto Bernabeu