Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women in developed countries. The development of most breast cancers is related to various hormonal effects, while 10% is associated with inherited gene mutations. Most of the primary prevention methods aim at decreasing the effects of hormones, but education on proper lifestyle is also an important risk-lowering method. The primary treatment of early breast cancer is usually breast-conserving surgery, either with the targeted removal of regional lymph nodes (by sentinel lymph node labelling) or with axillary block-dissection. The aim of postoperative radiotherapy is the eradication of the tumour cells left behind. Beside the locoregional tumour control this also plays a role in the prevention of recurrence or a secondary systemic dissemination. Adjuvant systemic treatments are used for the eradication of disseminated microscopic tumour foci. The use of modern adjuvant treatments may reduce death from the disease by up to 50%. The risks of relapse or death may be estimated based on established prognostic factors. While in low-risk patients it is not worth starting medical treatment, especially in view of the side effects, while in other cases chemo- or hormonal therapy may save the patient's life. The choice of the medical treatment should also depend on the patient's general health, the concomittant diseases and her preferences. The collaboration of the various specialists involved in the care of breast cancer patients can best take place at specialised breast centres that are equipped with the necessary technical basis, knowledge and professional experience.
|Translated title of the contribution||Breast cancer care: From prevention to surveillance|
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Lege Artis Medicinae|
|Publication status||Published - Sep 1 2006|
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