Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and the leading cause of death in women aged 35 to 65. Its early diagnosis significantly increases the chances of recovery. The symptoms of breast cancer are neither specific nor constant. So do not wait to feel something special to consult a doctor. Any abnormality (lump, pain, discharge, etc.) in the breast or any change should encourage consultation.
Men also have mammary glands and can also be affected by breast cancer (less than 1% of breast cancers). Depending on your age and your doctor's recommendation, you have the choice between two examinations.
1. Senological Assessment
A senological assessment is accessible to all, regardless of age, on medical prescription.
Principle of the senological assessment
The senological assessment consists of a clinical examination, a mammography and an echography of the breasts.
The results of these tests may require additional information, which is why you may have to do a biopsy. It is then a question of performing a puncture in the breast using a thin needle and analyzing the liquid taken in the laboratory in order to specify any possible anomaly.
Conduct of the examination
You are taken care of by a doctor who will begin the assessment with :
- An interrogation that allows him to assess your family and personal risk factors.
- A clinical examination that consists of inspecting and palpating your breasts and armpits (the axillary hollows).
- You are then invited to have a mammogram. .
- Mammography is an X-ray of the breasts that allows images of the inside of the mammary gland to be obtained through X-rays. The examination usually consists of two X-ray images per breast. One of the images may be a tomosynthesis. At the same radiation dosage as a traditional image, a tomosynthesis image allows for an improved diagnostic approach. The center’s equipment is the least irradiating of all equipment (mammography – tomosynthesis). Mammograhy can detect small cancers with a better prognosis (95% survival rate at 5 years for cancer less than 1 cm).
- Preparation : To do the X-ray examination of the breasts, the operator is obliged to compress your breasts in the machine. Expect this exam to be uncomfortable and unpleasant. If the breasts are sensitive, mammography can also be a little painful. Fortunately, the exam is short (only a few minutes).
- Caution : It is recommended that women report any possible pregnancy so that arrangements can be made for this radiographic examination.
- You are then invited to have an ultrasound of the breasts. Ultrasound allows dissociation between structures. This examination is painless, fast and safe. There are no radiation emissions.
Mammotest is part of the federal breast cancer screening program. It is offered every 2 years to all women between the ages of 50 and 69. It includes a mammogram that is examined by 2 or 3 successive readers (medical specialists). It is supervised by the Centre Communautaire de Référence (CCR).
Conduct of the examination
following receipt of your invitation to free screening, you must :
- Make an appointment at an approved centre. The list of approved centres is provided with the invitation.
- Perform a Mammotest : that is to say 2 x 2 mammography images.
- Wait for image analysis (double reading).
- A first radiologist analyzes the images of the centre.
- They are then transmitted electronically to the CCR for a second reading.
- If a discrepancy appears between the two readings, a third reading is requested.
- Your file is completed: the CCR records your administrative and medical data, the name of your referring doctor and the results of your examination.
- Your file is sent to your referring doctor: at the latest within 15 days of your examination.
- A request for further information may be necessary : if this is the case, you will be informed by mail.
The Imagin-X centre is authorised to carry out this examination for the three Belgian linguistic communities. It is carried out in digital technique, to reduce the level of irradiation as much as possible.