Breast cancer is a tumour that affects both women and men, and it is characterised by an disordered, abnormal growth of mammary cells. This growth then compromises the gland and can metastasise (spread) to other organs, especially without an early diagnosis. With this in mind we turn to Doctor Maria Caridad Rubio Hernandez, head of the Mastology Service of the National Institute of Oncology and Radiology of Havana, Cuba and President of the Special Group of National Work (in Cuba) towards the Control of Breast Cancer. Carcinoma “in situ”, which is less common, is cancer that grows inside the breast duct and does not pass through the base membrane, the opposite of an invasive carcinoma, which passes through the membrane and is then able to affect surrounding tissue. The origin of this cancer is unknown, but scientific studies have shown that there are some risk factors associated with the disease. Genetics is also a factor – 10 to 20% of cases diagnosed also have close relatives who have suffered from the disease.
In the pre-clinical stage the disease does not show any symptoms, it then moves through different stages from 0 (zero), or carcinoma “in situ”, to IV.
In Cuba we do not have an screening system in place (where healthy people are invited to undergo a mammogram) but our national health system does offer the diagnosis of any kind of breast cancer and better control of the disease. It is important for women to know the signs that are linked to breast cancer, and if any of these appear they should be seen immediately by a specialist. While a clinical diagnosis is very important, it is also necessary to study the breast with diagnostic tools such as mammograms and ultrasonic equipment. What can you tell us about treatments and the procedures that are used to cure or, at least, control the disease.
The primary treatment in terms of curing or controlling the disease is surgical, with surgery aimed at preserving the breast.


Nowadays, our patients are able to undergo reconstructive breast surgery immediately, or through a second surgical procedure, if they require it. There are also treatments available for local and systemic control of the disease (chemotherapy and radiotherapy or radiation treatment) which we are able to offer patients according to international protocols based on the best scientific evidence. Family plays an important role in the physical, psychological and social recovery of our patients.
I would like to stress the importance to all women of self-care and of individual responsibility in the control of breast cancer. A tumor can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous, meaning it can spread to other parts of the body). In Cuba it is the primary cause of cancer in women and the second only to lung cancer in terms of mortality rate. This depends on the size of the growth, the extent of the affect on lymph nodes and how far it has spread to other organs. For example, asymmetry in the breasts, lumps in the gland or armpit, changes in colour, changes in temperature or texture of the skin, discharge from the nipple or the nipple becoming inverted. These can contribute a great deal to the decisions for treatment and follow-up for patients who have already been diagnosed. These changes usually take years to develop; however, when a person has an uncommon inherited syndrome, changes can occur within months to years. However moles do not pose any risk for the person who has it unless it turns into cancerous growth. There should not be sudden change of color in the moles changing down to red, brown or blue.


Colon Cancer initially starts in the lining of the bowel and if left untreated, can grow into the muscle layers underneath, and then through the bowel wall. Exposure of body parts to hot rays of the sun is one of the causes for getting skin cancer moles or melanoma. Some studies have also linked diets high in animal fat, and low in fruits, vegetables and fibre to an increased risk.Blood in stool -This is the main sign of colon cancer as well as for other types of cancer. Dark patches or blood in stool or on it is the main sign of colon cancer.Anaemia -Blood in stool translates to loss of blood in your body.
Anaemia in colon cancer patients needs to be improved to fight cancer and increase survival chances. Fatigue -Fatigue is one sign that affects most of us, but that doesn’t imply that we all have colon cancer.
Weight loss -Along with anaemia and fatigue, colon cancer patients will lose weight drastically. Change in bowel movement -This can be an agonising problem; change in bowel movement means you have to change your eating habits, which includes that you may have to skip on certain favourite food.
Change in bowel movement simply means you may experience constipation, diarrhea, a sense that your bowel is not empty, rectal cramping, urgency to visit the washroom.
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