Breast cancer, also known as carcinoma of the breast, is a malignant tumour of the breast. It is the most common form of cancer for women in Switzerland, where one in every four female cancer patients has breast cancer. According to the Swiss Society for Senology, around 5,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. The risk of disease gradually increases from the age of 40. The frequency of this form of cancer in Europe as a whole has also risen in the past 20 years. In very rare cases, breast cancer may also develop in men.
How does breast cancer develop?
Breast cancer occurs when normal cells in the glandular tissue, which consists of lobes and milk ducts, transform into malignant cells. This results in uncontrolled and rapid growth. Over time, solid masses or lumps with surface irregularities will form and are palpable.
Does breast cancer mean that you need to have your breast removed?
Whether a breast has to be removed entirely or only partially depends on the size and type of the tumour. Breast-conserving surgery is possible in the majority of cases, which means that only the part of the breast affected is removed. However, if the tumour is large or if there are multiple tumours, complete removal of the breast is usually necessary. In these cases, we offer immediate reconstruction with the patient’s own tissue or an implant, performed in the same operation, to restore the woman’s physical integrity.
Breast conservation or mastectomy:
Through a better understanding of tumour biology, the approach to treating breast cancer has shifted increasingly in favour of breast-conserving methods. Nevertheless, for approximately one third of patients, a total mastectomy is either essential, or preferable to breast-conserving surgery for aesthetic reasons.
Is screening more difficult if you have breast implants?
Breast screening can also be carried out if you have implants. Ultrasound and MRI are particularly suitable in this case.
Can breast reconstruction adversely affect the healing process?
It is now clear that this is not the case. Scientific studies have shown that breast reconstructions do not negatively influence the prognosis.
Can cancer be completely cured, or is there a risk of the tumour growing back?
A cure is possible in the majority of cases. With early diagnosis and proper treatment, the chance of recovery is greater than 90 per cent. The exact prognosis depends on the type of tumour and its stage of growth. Unfortunately, the risk of recurrence or the appearance of a new tumour can never be completely eliminated, even many years after treatment. With today’s treatment methods, however, the prospects of maintaining a high quality of life are very good.