Breast Cancer Awareness Month (Luxembourg)
Originating in the United States, "Pink October" is a tradition that has been going on for over 28 years. The symbol of this event is the pink ribbon, pink, a feminine colour, soft, joyful and evoking good health. This international campaign aims to raise awareness of breast cancer screening.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and is the leading cause of cancer-related death in women. In Luxembourg, this disease affects more than 450 women each year.
Screening for breast cancer at an early stage allows for the least invasive surgery possible and limits the treatments and their side effects. Breast cancers have few clinical signs in the early stages of their development, so screening can detect abnormalities before clinical signs appear.
SCREENING OR DIAGNOSTIC MAMMOGRAPHY?
The examination is the same but it is not performed in the same context.
- Diagnostic mammography is carried out when your gynaecologist or family doctor requests it by simple prescription, either for a simple follow-up or when he or she suspects an abnormality. In this case, the examination will include, in addition to the mammogram, images centred on the suspected area(s), an ultrasound scan and possibly a biopsy.
- Screening mammography is the reference examination for detecting breast cancer, particularly at an early stage, even without symptoms. It is generally carried out as part of the national screening mammography programme.
It is important to have regular follow-up visits to your GP or gynaecologist. This regular consultation allows your doctor to monitor any malignant or benign breast or gynaecological disease.
From the age of 40, a mammogram is offered to women to carry out a first screening assessment for breast cancer. This is based on a mammogram, possibly supplemented by an ultrasound or MRI scan depending on the history of each patient (history of breast cancer in the family, genetic mutation, significant risk factors, etc.).
Screening mammography organised by the Mammography Programme (Ministry of Health)
In Luxembourg, since 1992, the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the CNS, has been organising national breast cancer screening by mammography. From the age of 50, an invitation is sent every two years to every woman aged between 50 and 70 (the period when the risk of breast cancer is highest in women) who is affiliated to the CNS. The patient can choose the approved radiology centre that suits her for her mammography.
Who is it for?
- Women aged between 50 and 70
Where to go?
- CHL Senology Unit or an approved radiology centre
When is it done?
- Every 2 years
How to get it?
- By phone: +352 4411-7360
- Via the service page
- Via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- By visiting the service
The screening mammogram
A screening mammogram, consisting of 4 images, is performed for each patient. This provides an overall view of the breast in several spatial planes. The mammography examination makes it possible to detect micro-calcifications that are not visible on ultrasound. Although a cancerous tumour cannot be prevented, it can be detected at an early stage, i.e. for tumours of a few millimetres. The less aggressive the tumour, the greater the chance of recovery.
The results of a screening mammogram (Ministry of Health)
The images are analysed by two radiologists (the radiologist from the mammography department and the radiologist from the Mammography Programme), which is known as a "double reading".
The results are sent to the gynaecologist or doctor of the patient's choice and to the patient in the language of her choice (German, French, Portuguese and English).
A normal result1 means that the mammogram shows no abnormalities and that no further examination is recommended. However, an annual clinical examination is still recommended during a regular consultation.
An abnormal result means that an abnormality has been detected by the radiologists. This is the case for about 5% of the mammograms performed. In this case, further examinations are necessary to clarify the abnormality. This usually involves additional imaging, ultrasound, MRI or even a biopsy.
1 sante.public.lu > prevention > cancer-sein-depistage
Questions and answers
How often should I have a mammogram?
- After the age of 50, mammography is the reference examination for breast cancer screening. Women between the ages of 50 and 70 are advised to have a mammogram every two years.
- Before the age of 50, or in the case of a personal or family history, your doctor will determine the frequency of your mammograms.
Why can't I have an ultrasound instead of a mammogram?
- Mammography is the first-line examination that allows you to visualise the entire mammary gland in order to look for abnormalities, such as opacities or microcalcifications, which cannot be seen on ultrasound. Ultrasound is recommended in cases of dense breast tissue, which is very common in young or postmenopausal women on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Ultrasound can clarify the nature, liquid or solid, of a lesion detected on mammography, a valuable tool in distinguishing a benign or malignant lesion.
Are X-rays dangerous to health?
- Like all x-rays, mammography uses x-rays. Repeated exposure can, in rare cases, lead to the development of cancer. The amount of X-rays delivered during a mammogram is very small because mammography machines are micro-dosed and the risk of cancer is very low in the age group for organised screening.
Why do I need to compress my breasts, does it hurt?
- Breast compression during mammography is adapted to the patient's feelings. It allows the thickness of the breast to be reduced and therefore reduces the dose of X-rays. It also allows the mammary gland to be spread out and therefore the overlapping structures to be better visualised.
I have prostheses, can I have a mammogram?
- There is no risk of damage or rupture of the breast prostheses during the mammography. Breast implants are made of shock-resistant materials.
- Six images are taken, including two images using the Eklund technique. This manoeuvre consists of pushing the prosthesis backwards to better visualise the mammary gland. This technique is painless and does not harm the implant.