Breast self-exam does not replace clinical examination, says Ministry of Health



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Not only the singer Anitta, but a lot of Brazilian women do not know that breast self-examination is no longer indicated to identify and prevent breast cancer. In the clip of the newly released song, "Atención", from her newest album, the pop artist and other women appear doing self-examination, as an alert. However, according to the Ministry of Health and the Brazilian Society of Mastology (SBM), the method, which has already been widely recommended, helps to know the body itself, but does not replace the clinical examination of the breasts.

Photo: Disclosure

SBM president Antônio Frasson explains that self-examination was no longer recommended in more developed countries for over ten years because it was not able to discover tumors up to 1 centimeter. By self-apportioning and identifying no change, the concern is that women stop looking for medical care and screening. Failures in this screening and the slowness between confirmation and treatment contribute to mortality.

"Self-examination is not able to identify pre-malignant lesions, very small lesions, before they become cancer, that is, it can not detect the lesions when they can be treated more easily," says Frasson. According to him, self-examination is only recommended where there is no mammogram or other diagnostic method. Europe and the United States, for example, cites, no longer recommend self-examination. In India, where there is no mammogram accessible, the method is still used, but to avoid complications of breast cancer.

The SBM estimates that the lack of information on breast cancer hinders diagnosis and treatment. To update the society about the disease, the entity does an online survey. In the questionnaire, professionals also want to know if women rely on self-examination as a way to prevent the disease. They also want to identify bottlenecks that delay access to mammography and the time the patient may have to wait between confirmation and initiation of treatment. This time, can not exceed 60 days by legal determination.

"We have some Brazilian surveys showing that in the public system the tumors are diagnosed late and that when there is a complaint, breast nodule, or there is a complaint of breast alteration, there is a delay in diagnosis. Women have difficulty marking mammography, biopsy, scheduling consultation with specialists. So we want to understand, in different regions and patient profiles, to learn how to streamline the two steps, "explains the doctor.

With research, the first of the SBM that directly consults women, there are still questions about signs, symptoms, risk factors and campaign effectiveness. To respond, one must be a woman, be over 18 years old and have about ten minutes available. The result must be announced by the end of this month. The questionnaire is on the link: https://lnkd.in/d343z9W.

The Ministry of Health and the National Cancer Institute (INCA) confirm SBM's guidance on self-examination. They encourage a woman to feel her breasts whenever she feels comfortable, at any time, without any specific or periodic technical recommendation. Official data show that it is more common for women to identify lumps in the breast casually (in the bath or in the change of clothes) than in the monthly self-examination. The shift, according to the ministry, came from the fact that, in practice, many women discovered the disease from a casual observation and not through a systematic practice of self-examination.

Another recommendation is that even without symptoms, women over 40 years of age will undergo annual clinical examination of the breasts and those in the 50-69 age group, at low risk, undergo mammography at least every two years. This periodicity takes into account the benefits and risks of mammography, which is an X-ray capable of identifying small tumors. Women considered to be at high risk should seek individualized follow-up. This group includes those with a family history of breast cancer in a first-degree relative before age 50.

Breast cancer is the most frequent type of cancer in Brazilian women, with high lethality. In this disease, there is an irregular development of the breasts, which multiply until forming a malignant tumor. Doctors have not identified the precise causes of the disease, but warn of the growing number of women under 40 years of treatment.

Healthy habits and an exercise routine are the main recommendations to avoid any type of cancer. Treatment may vary between surgery and chemotherapy.

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