Two popular presenters died of cancer within a few days
Within a few days, two popular TV presenters have died from the effects of their breast cancer. After ZDF sports journalist Jana Thiel, only 41-year-old Miriam Pielhau has now become a victim of the insidious disease. Pielhau, who was known to television viewers from formats such as “taff” or “Big Brother”, was diagnosed in 2008 and, after initially successful treatment, has been fighting cancer again since 2014.
Not an isolated case, because around one in eight women will develop breast cancer in the course of their lives, around 17,000 people die of it every year in this country alone. But how can the disease be recognized? And what treatment options are there? At the Cancer Information Service (KID), the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the German Cancer Society, women can find answers to all important questions on the topic.
Miriam Pielhau already considered cancer to be defeated
According to Jana Thiel (44), the presenter and author Miriam Pielhau died at the age of 41 of the consequences of her breast cancer. Pielhau's cancer was diagnosed in spring 2008, but she was initially able to overcome it with chemotherapy and was considered cured. However, breast cancer and metastases were identified again in 2014, and liver metastases in January 2015. At the beginning of this year, it was said that the disease was over again - but now the popular author has lost the fight against cruel cancer.
Every third patient is younger than 55 when diagnosed
According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), breast cancer is by far the most common form of cancer in women with 70,000 new cases each year. About every eighth woman will develop breast cancer in the course of her life, although according to the KID the risk is not equally high in every phase of life is: While at the age of 35 one in 110 women must assume that they will fall ill within the next ten years, at the age of 65 one in 27 women up to the age of 75 will be affected. Almost 30 percent of the patients are younger than 55 when diagnosed, which means that breast cancer occurs much earlier than most other cancers, according to the RKI.
If there are changes in the breast, consult a doctor as a precaution
The cancer rarely causes symptoms in the early stage. But there are some warning signs that can indicate a disease and should therefore be checked by a doctor. These include newly formed lumps, thickening or hardening in the breast or armpit, clear or bloody secretions from a nipple and non-subsiding skin redness or scaling. Even if suddenly one-sided burning pain or pulling occurs, a breast appears to have changed in size or shape, a nipple or the breast skin has contracted in one place or "orange skin" can be seen, a doctor should be consulted as a precaution, the KID advises. If the suspicion is confirmed, the diagnosis of breast cancer is usually not a medical emergency that must be treated immediately, explains the KID. Instead, "every woman she was interviewed with had sufficient time to find out about the treatment options and to find a clinic she could trust," wrote the cancer information service on its website.
The breast can usually be preserved today
Surgery is usually essential to treat malignant breast tumors. However, while this usually meant a radical removal of the breast until a few decades ago, in most cases surgery can now be carried out more gently and the breast can be preserved. In the case of large tumors, it is possible to reduce them by prior drug therapy (neoadjuvant chemotherapy). If this is not possible or there are several nodes in the tissue, in rare cases a complete breast removal (mastectomy) may be necessary. Thanks to medical progress, there are various options for breast reconstruction, e.g. Permanently used silicone implants or a new build with the body's own tissue.
After the breast-conserving procedure, the breast is irradiated to reduce the risk of relapse. If a mastectomy had to be performed, the further treatment steps depend on the individual situation. Thereafter, to further reduce the risk of relapse, medical treatment is usually carried out (hormone withdrawal treatment, chemotherapy or targeted antibodies), whereby the different methods can also be combined with each other if necessary, according to the KID.
Risk of metastases depends on several factors
In some cases, cancer spreads and affects other organs, such as in the case of Miriam Pielhau, the bones and the liver. In the long term, according to the information service, one in four patients must expect metastases - but how high the personal risk actually is depends on several factors, e.g. the stage of the disease at the start of treatment.
As the disease progresses, the likelihood of relapse continues to decrease, but the danger is far from over. "With breast cancer, however, the risk curve is somewhat different than with most other cancers: Even many years after the first illness, metastases are not completely excluded," emphasizes the KID.
Fewer fatalities thanks to improved therapies
In five to ten out of a hundred patients, a tumor in the same breast develops again within ten years (local recurrence). Signs of this can e.g. nodular changes or redness of the skin. If there are no metastases, this tumor is treated similarly to the first disease. If the breast was preserved, an amputation is often made to prevent renewed tumor and metastasis.
Even though the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer is increasing, fewer people would die of it today than ten years ago, as medicine has made tremendous progress. For many women, the disease "could be stopped in the long term thanks to modern therapies" - even if the cancer had already spread. "More and more women with advanced breast cancer can expect to live long despite the metastases." In these cases, the everyday life of patients is similar to that of other people with a chronic illness. Long-term treatment is necessary, "but the disease does not have to rule life continuously," the information service continues.
Women should feel their breasts regularly to see any changes. (Image: Eskymaks / fotolia.com)
Avoid overweight and lack of exercise
Can I Effectively Prevent Breast Cancer? A question that many women deal with. But “there are still many questions about the causes of breast cancer. It is almost impossible to retrospectively identify a single, special reason for the development of tumors in patients with breast cancer, ”according to the KID. So there is no reliable protection against cancer, but studies have shown some factors that have an impact on the risk of developing the disease. This includes age, lifestyle, the hormonal situation and possibly hereditary risk genes.
It is clear that lack of exercise and obesity (especially after menopause) can have an adverse effect, and alcohol can also affect the breast cancer rate. A connection between breast cancer and smoking or passive smoking, on the other hand, has not yet been adequately proven, and it does not matter, for example, whether a woman eats particularly healthy or not. According to the current state of research, stress, crisis situations or depression would also have no verifiable part in the development of the disease. And the so-called “breast cancer genes” BRCA1 and BRCA2 are probably only relevant for five to a maximum of ten out of a hundred patients, explains the KID.
To be on the safe side, women aged 30 and over can go to the gynecologist once a year to have their breasts and armpits palpated. Women between the ages of 50 and 69 have the option of having a mammogram every two years. Regardless of age, every woman should also look at her breasts and armpits carefully in the mirror once a month and feel for changes. (No)