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Demystifying Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the commonest cancer in South Africa today. A woman has a 1:29 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Our understanding of this disease has advanced a lot over the years and today 90% of women with early stage breast cancer can be cured with the available treatment modalities.

The hope is that after reading this article you will have a better understanding of the relevant issues surrounding the diagnosis and management of breast cancer.

Risk factors for breast cancer include but are not limited to family history smoking, alcohol, obesity, early age at first child bearing and prolonged use of hormone replacement therapy. After 5 years of HRT the risk of breast cancer rises significantly. A recent study showed that even small infrequent alcohol use increases breast cancer risk.

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The role of fine needle aspiration and core needle biopsies in breast pathology

The triple test refers to clinical, radiologic and pathologic evaluation of breast abnormalities (lesions) in order to establish a definitive diagnosis. The triple test has become the worldwide standard of care for the diagnosis and management of breast abnormalities. Concordance of all three arms of the test is required for definitive management.

The multidisciplinary approach to managing breast diseases has fostered a closer working relationship between the various disciplines involved in the diagnosis and treatment of breast diseases.

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