Modern breast cancer care

Modern breast cancer care

Modern treatment of breast cancer requires the skills of different professionals and varied patient care according to the stage of the disease when diagnosed. Finland has a high level of expertise in breast cancer care, and treatment results are among the best in the world.

All abnormal symptoms in breasts are worth examining

Every lump or any retraction of breast skin, blood leaking from a nipple or mastitis in women who are not pregnant should be examined by mammography and ultrasound. A needle biopsy should be taken from every suspicious change in breast tissue.

Breast conserving surgery or mastectomy? It depends on the stage of the disease

By means of so-called oncoplastic techniques we can perform more breast-conserving surgery. For example, by reducing and reshaping large breasts it is possible to successfully operate on relatively big tumours.

The surgical radicality (clear margins around the tumour) is assessed by radiological and pathological examination after the operation.

Axillary status is established by sentinel node examination

Lymph fluid drains from the breast tumour area to the axilla (armpit). The first lymph nodes in the lymph vessels are called sentinel nodes. They are marked by injecting technetium isotope into the breast tissues one day before the operation and detected during the operation using a gamma detector.

The sentinel nodes are removed during the operation and sent to a pathologist for a frozen section analysis. If the sentinel nodes are healthy, axillary lymph node dissection is not needed.

Magnetic resonance mammography

Sometimes it is difficult to see how big the breast tumour actually is before an operation or it might be multifocal. In such cases magnetic resonance mammography gives more information about a tumour.

Postoperative patient care

Following breast cancer surgery most people go home on the second day after the operation. Most often patients go home with a drain from the operation area. The drains are removed after their outputs are under 50 ml per day. The stitches are removed 8 days after the operation.

Blood leakage after the operation is possible, but a rare complication. Most often it happens during the first postoperative day, in which case a new operation (hematoma evacuation) is needed. Treating this kind of complication is included in the price of the operation.

After surgical care a pathological analysis of all tissue sections is performed, and the final evaluation of the state of the disease is given.

After this an oncologist plans so-called adjuvant care: possible cytostatic therapy, antioestrogen therapy and radiotherapy of the breast depending on the stage of the disease. Some people go home to their own oncologist for after care, but it is possible to get all this care in Finland too.