Screening tests improve the early detection of cancerous changes and thus increase the chances of curing cancer. Since 2005, a mammographic examination program dedicated to breast cancer has been implemented in Lithuania. According to this preventive program, women over the age of 50 are recommended to undergo a free x-ray examination (mammogram) of both breasts every two years.
During mammography, the doctor assesses whether there are any suspicious changes in the breast. If such changes are found, the patient is subjected to further tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Ultrasound examination of breast with echoscope
The breast tissue in younger women is dense and small changes may be missed on mammograms. In these cases, an ultrasound examination is preferred.
To confirm a diagnosis of breast cancer, tumor cells must be examined under a microscope and a sample is taken during a breast biopsy.
Molecular types of breast cancer
After a breast biopsy, the molecular type of breast cancer is determined to select a suitable treatment. The type of breast cancer depends on the type of receptors on the surface of the cancer cells. They may express receptors for progesterone, estrogen, or HER2 receptors. If the cancer cells express hormone receptors on their surface, the cancer is classified as luminal. Hormone therapy is used in these cases. The less common HER2+ type of cancer is treated with anti-HER2 antibodies. If the cancer cells do not have any of the three receptors, it is classified as basal and called triple negative. Triple-negative cancer does not have a specific treatment, and the survival rate is worse than in other types of breast cancer (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10549-016-4059-6). Triple-negative breast cancer is more common in women with pathogenic mutations in the BRCA1 gene.