Breast cancer is the first cause of death for women. Epidemiological studies confirm that 1 in 10 women will develop breast cancer.
More and more women are undergoing mammography for the first time at the age of 35 and since the age of 40 and afterwards they undergo mammography every year, when there is no risk. Otherwise, mammography programming is more frequent.
Since 2004, thanks to mammography, digital mammography with better imaging analysis (and less radiation) and clinical examination by women themselves, the incidence of breast cancer has been reduced by 10% for women over 50 years old.
Diagnosis of breast cancer made by state-of-the-art tools (advanced breast ultrasound, digital mammography, shear wave elastography, Breast Pap test, etc.) now increases the life expectancy of a woman suffering from some form of breast cancer.
A large percentage of women – up to 70% – with breast cancer have no risk factors other than age. Thus, we realize the value of mammography being able to detect lesions in a breast, long before they grow up and become palatable. The value of mammography is great, as in many cases a suspicious lesion will be detected by mammography at an early stage; otherwise it will be palpable by the woman or her doctor after months or even years.
The Breast Pap test is a test that can diagnose some forms of breast cancer without intervention in very early stages. A special machine massages the chest in a specific way, and it secretes fluid from the nipple of the woman with the help of a pump, which is collected. This secretion can be up to several cubic centimeters; the cells of this secretion are examined after special processing by cytologists. It is worth noting that a lesion can be detected long before mammography shows something in some forms of breast cancer.
Any woman over 25 may undergo a breast Pap test, even if there is no secretion from their nipple or do not palpate something in their breasts.
The whole procedure for a breast Pap test lasts 5 minutes and most of the time it is painless. However, some women undergoing this procedure have no discharge from their nipples. This is partly reassuring, as it proves that the likelihood of some women having lactiferous duct cancers is very low. Of all other women who will have nipple excretion only a very small percentage, less than 3%, will have atypical cells. Therefore, nipple secretion requires investigation, but most of the time it is NOT a concern.
Most often, nipple secretion is a result of hormonal reasons, meaning that there is probably an abscess, an injury, a simple inflammation, or a fibrocystic breast disease. All of these factors are benign, but women should be examined by their doctor to rule out any suspicion.
The Breast Pap test does not replace mammography or breast ultrasound. Mammography and ultrasound are imaging examinations, while the breast Pap is cytological, as we examine the cells from the ducts and nipple. It greatly helps in early diagnosis of breast cancer. This is a screening test that is gradually being incorporated in the list of annual exams that women have to do, as it promises to help in the early diagnosis of breast cancer.