20 Oct Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and throughout this month, numerous initiatives aim to educate women on prevention measures and actions to take when diagnosed. In this article, we’ll delve into the definition of breast cancer, examine its incidence in the EU, discuss preventive measures, and highlight how fertility preservation can empower women to become moms after successfully overcoming breast cancer.
Breast cancer is a malignant tumor originating from the cells in the breast. Typically, it begins in either the lobules, which are the milk-producing glands, or in the ducts, which are the pathways that help bring the milk from the lobules to the nipple. In rarer cases, breast cancer may develop in the fatty tissue within the breast. Unfortunately, cancer cells frequently invade unaffected breast tissue, and in doing so, they can spread to the lymph nodes located under the arms, which can, in turn, result in even more complications.
In the EU, approximately 1 in 7 women is diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 74, which makes this type of cancer the most frequently occurring one. In 2020, the region reported over 355 thousand new cases, with the majority of them being among women aged 45-69. In the EU, the highest occurrence per 100,000 women is in Belgium, where it affects between 175 and 194 women, while in countries like France, Ireland, Finland, the Netherlands, and Denmark, it falls between 156 and 175. In Italy, Germany, and Sweden, the range is between 137 and 156.
The good news is that, although certain risk factors are beyond our control, adopting a healthy lifestyle, undergoing regular screenings, and following our doctor’s recommendations can make all the difference. Women who struggle with obesity, for example, have an elevated risk of breast cancer, which is why maintaining a nutrient-rich diet and incorporating regular exercise can help reduce this risk. And while regular mammograms cannot prevent breast cancer, they can assist in early detection. In fact, many doctors recommend annual mammograms for women aged 45 and older. Additionally, it’s important to note that women with a family history of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation are at a higher risk of inheriting it, which significantly increases their susceptibility to breast cancer.
With all the recent advancements in cancer treatments, however, the number of breast cancer survivors has been steadily increasing. In fact, breast cancer survival rates do not fall below 70% in any one of the EU countries. Still, the importance of fertility preservation for breast cancer patients is frequently disregarded by medical professionals, given that many patients do not openly share their fertility concerns with their healthcare providers.
If you know someone that has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, but they are still planning on expanding their family in the years to come, we encourage you to introduce them to the fertility preservation options available at Reproclinic. Currently, patients with breast cancer can choose between cryopreserving their oocytes or embryos, and the most suitable option for each patient is determined through an individual consultation between the patient and our medical experts.