Experts recommend starting self-examination from the age of twenty
Learn self-palpation. It is essential to learn to catch signs in time that can alarm, perhaps through self-examination that allows you to identify a suspicious lump or when you notice thickening of the skin, retraction of the nipple or loss of blood through the nipple itself.
This "self-check" should be performed every month, more or less from the age of twenty, more or less a week after the end of the menstrual cycle, when the breast is less "swollen", at least until you are of childbearing age.
And then, remember the screening. They are two key factors for early detection of breast cancer and for getting the most out of treatments. On the therapy front, however, treatments are emerging that can also help women who develop the disease at a young age, that is, before menopause, even in serious form.
Forward to tailored care
Unfortunately, there are still cases in which the lesion is discovered when the tumor is already in an advanced stage or in any case has given metastasis. Although these situations are more often found in women who have passed the menopause, they can sometimes also affect younger people.
For these patients it is necessary to find targeted solutions, able to respond to specific needs and on the basis of precise clinical characteristics of the lesion. An important path has been opened with the availability of medicines that have a specific objective: these are the class of CDK4 / 6 inhibitors, which can allow to avoid the use of chemotherapy in the first line or to postpone it, with great advantages for patients in terms of quality of life and less toxicity.
In this sense, the recent availability also in Italy of a drug, ribociclib, which in addition to being used in women after menopause can also be used in younger patients with advanced breast cancer, obviously always in combination with hormonal therapies and in cases in which specific cell characteristics exist.
In fact, the treatment must always be aimed at the person, to give an answer as effective as possible against a certain tumor which, due to its gravity and cellular specificity, can develop and spread rapidly even in younger women.
Lucia Del Mastro, Head of the Breast Unit of the IRCCS Policlinico San Martino Hospital in Genoa, remembers it: "In Italy more than 37,000 women are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. About 10% of these are between 40 and 49 years old. They are young women, in the midst of their family and professional life, such as mothers, wives and workers. In these cases, the disease has a profound impact on the whole family. Hence the need for innovative therapeutic options expressly that guarantee quantity and quality of life.
In this sense, as emerged from the Monaleesa-77 clinical study, there are specific therapies such as ribociclib, a treatment characterized, on the one hand, by a higher efficacy than the standard anti-hormonal therapies, on the other hand by a low toxicity, allowing to lead a normal life while continuing treatment for metastatic cancer ".
The impact of the disease on women
In small steps, therefore, the search goes on. The possibilities for women to find countermeasures for an enemy that must be contrasted with prevention and then fought, when presented, with the resources of science, increase for women.
In fact, it is essential to strive to offer new alternatives in the challenge of breast cancer, in the certainty that "the" tumor no longer exists generically but numerous pathological forms, which must be carefully identified thanks to the possibility of studying the cells and their specificities, offering more specific treatment on a case-by-case basis.
We must not forget that, in the war against cancer, the psychological aspect is crucial. Locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer has a high impact on quality of life for most women, according to recent research conducted by Elma Research on a sample of 160 pre-menopausal patients.
In particular, the disease affects the couple's intimacy, mood, sleep quality and professional life, with as many as four out of ten patients who had to leave their job due to the time required for therapies and physical or psychological illness. caused by the disease. The majority of patients, moreover, find themselves forced to resort to the help of loved ones for home care and to be accompanied to the hospital to follow the treatments and carry out the tests.