Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Korean women. According to a recent report by the National Health Insurance Corporation on the status of health insurance treatment for breast cancer patients, the number of breast cancer patients has increased by 30.5% over the last four years from 206,308 in 2017 to 269,313 in 2021.
Breast cancer, early detection through self-diagnosis is important
Early detection of breast cancer is important. If breast cancer is detected in the first stage, the cure rate is close to 98%. In comparison, the survival rate for stage 4 drops to less than 30%. In the early stages of breast cancer, there are often painless lumps that can be felt.
A breast cancer lump is hard and irregular in shape. As breast cancer progresses further, symptoms such as bloody discharge from the nipple, depression of the nipple or skin, skin eczema around the nipple, or visible lymph nodes in the armpit appear.
If there is an abnormality in self-diagnosis or if a regular examination is necessary, you should have a breast cancer examination. Breast cancer screening is mainly performed through X-rays. Most Korean women have dense breasts with little breast fat and a lot of mammary tissue. 50% of women under the age of 50 in Korea have dense breasts. Accuracy is poor only with X-ray mammography. When performing a breast cancer examination, a breast ultrasound can increase the accuracy of the examination.
A ‘mammoplasty’ maintains the shape of the breast and reduces scarring
The scope and method of surgery is determined by the location and classification of cancer. Patients who have had their breasts removed for cancer treatment have difficulties in interpersonal relationships due to mental pain or, in severe cases, go into depression or a sense of loss. At this stage, ‘mammoplasty’ or ‘breast reconstruction’ maintains and restores the shape of the breast and has a positive effect on the patient’s recovery and cure of diseases.
First of all, ‘mammoplasty’ is performed to maintain the shape of the breast as much as possible and reduce scarring. Mammoplasty is a surgical procedure that removes cancer by making an incision around the areola or in the crease under the breast to reduce the scarring caused by removing cancer.
Depending on the type and stage of the cancer, the cut-off range is also narrow. Usually, the incision is about 3 cm, and the scar is not visible to the naked eye. In particular, the original shape of the breast can be maintained as much as possible by using the remaining autologous breast tissue at the same time as cancer removal.
If the size of the cancer is extensive or distributed in several places, a total resection of the breast is performed. At this stage, breast reconstruction surgery is carried out at the same time as breast cancer surgery. Breast reconstruction surgery restores the disfigurement of the body caused by cancer resection to its original state. Implants or autologous tissue are used. In an autologous tissue transplant, tissue from the abdomen or back is removed and transplanted. Recently, hybrid breast reconstruction surgery that combines the advantages of implants and autologous tissue transplantation is being performed.
1 in 5 breast cancers recur 5 years after surgery… Needs sustainable maintenance
Breast cancer has a low recurrence rate. Breast cancer requires long-term management because there is a risk of recurrence and metastasis even after 5 years. High-risk patients may need to take anti-hormonal drugs that stop cancer growth for up to 10 years.
According to a study published in the January 2023 issue of the Journal of Korean Surgery, recurrence occurred in 12.3% of all breast cancer patients. Among them, 19.7% of patients had a recurrence after 5 years of surgery, and 1 in 5 patients had a recurrence after 5 years.
Breast cancer also affects men. Male breast cancer accounts for 1-2% of all breast cancers. Breast cancer in men is often diagnosed late and has a poor prognosis. Male breast cancer is similar to female breast cancer. Usually, a hard lump under the nipple is obvious and visits the hospital. Men do not have much breast tissue and are less aware of breast cancer, so they often come to hospital after the disease has developed.
The incidence of young patients under 40 is high… Necessary for exercise, sobriety, etc.
Breast cancer is not caused by a single cause, but by a variety of factors. There is no total suspension. In Korea, the incidence rate of young patients under the age of 40 is high. Along with regular checkups, you should try to prevent breast cancer through lifestyle habits that avoid the usual risk factors for breast cancer.
Obesity and alcohol consumption are the main risk factors for breast cancer. Obesity, in particular, increases the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Even if you are not approaching menopause, physical activity including exercise prevents various diseases as well as breast cancer from occurring. It is good to maintain a healthy weight through regular physical activity. Alcohol consumption increases the risk of breast cancer regardless of menopause.
Professor Jeong Seung-pil from the Department of Breast Endocrine Surgery of Korea University Anam Hospital said, “Breast cancer has no early prognostic symptoms. Even if there are no symptoms, it is more important than anything else to diagnose and detect early on a regular basis,” he said.
# Self-diagnosis of breast cancer
Step 1: Within 5 days after menstruation stops, stand in front of a mirror and check the general outline of the breast, left-right symmetry, and whether the nipple and skin are indented.
Step 2: After lifting the skin of the breast with both hands, check if the skin is depressed.
Step 3: Raise your left hand over your shoulder, bring the tips of your three right middle fingers together, and slowly come in towards the nipple in a clockwise circular motion from the outside of the breast and touch it .
Step 4: Gently squeeze the nipple to see if there is any abnormal discharge.