Cancerous tumors of the breast are usually of primary nature, which means they start to grow in the breast, with the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body. A neoplasm or also called a tumour is a group of cells that have undergone unregulated growth and may form a mass, but can also be distributed diffusely throughout the body.
Tumour cells show a number of characteristics, including abnormal cell growth and division absence of programmed cell death, high number of cell divisions, promoting of blood vessel formation, invasion of tissue and metastasis.
Signs and symptoms of the disease are wide and may include a lump in the breast, swollen axillary lymph nodes, changes of the breast shape, changes of the skin around the breast, and inverted nipple, or fluid coming out from the nipple.
These tumors are classified by several grading systems, as well as primarily by its histological appearance. The histopathological analysis for a receptor status is standard in a breast cancer diagnosis and plays a crucial role in the decision making process for the right therapy. Breast cancer cells are known to have receptors on their surface, and the first step is an analysis that evaluates for hormones that bind to these receptors, including: estrogen (ER), progesterone (PR), and human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2), which belongs to the epidermal growth factor family (EGF-receptor family). Patients, whose tumor tissue has been tested positive for one or more of these receptors may benefit from an anti-hormone treatment, or a treatment with humanized monoclonal antibodies, or treatment with antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs). Patients, whose tumor cells have not any of these three receptor types (ER, PR and HER2) are called triple-negative although they frequently do express receptors for other hormones, such as androgen receptor or prolactin receptor.
Most of the breast tumors can be surgically removed, often mutual with a lymphadenectomy. Usually, a chemotherapy and/or a radiotherapy are recommended beforehand and/or following the surgical intervention. The most modern method nowadays is the usage of immunotherapies in breast cancer patients that are mainly used within a so called umbrella concept.
An umbrella concept considers all aspects of the patient’s medical history, other diagnosis, and general well-being, as well as the available diagnostic constellations and ongoing treatments. An umbrella concept does not rely on one therapeutic option or the other, it is highly considering a precision-based combination of therapies that are evaluated for each individual case.
Breast cancer is mainly diagnosed after patients felt a lump in their breast that feels different from the rest of the breast tissue. The earliest breast cancers are detected by a preventive check-up – during a mammogram. It is a common misconception that only women can develop breast cancer. Men are also affected by this disease.
In case of a suspicion of a breast carcinoma, usually a PET-CT-Scan is performed, which helps to see whether and where tumor masses are located. It shows us whether the cancer has already spread to other tissues (metastasis). If a mass has been confirmed, it should be biopsied in order to determine the dignity of the tumor. A histopathological analysis can determine the exact (cell) type of the tumor. There are many different types of tumors, and each of them presents unique genetic characteristics.
What most patients do not know is, that when the first examination on the biopsy has been performed (to determine the tumor type), the tissue is kept and stored at the histopathology department of the hospital, where the biopsy has been performed. This stored tissue material can be used for thorough (genetic) tissue analyses and in-depth sequencing. It is known that tumors show the accumulation of several genetic modifications, thus providing cancer cells with the selective growth advantage to initiate expansion. Now, sophisticated high-throughput technologies enable the identification of these mutated genes in cancers that can lead to a potent targeted therapy.
It is crucial to perform a thorough broad-spectrum screening so that every patient has a chance to explore all possibilities of a targeted treatment, may it be in a private setting or a clinical trial elsewhere. So it is most important to first find a laboratory that looks for all markers and mutations, and second, to find an oncologist who is willing to work with you in the best (and targeted) way possible.
Step 1 : Contact us
Important: Our oncological team is happy to talk to you by phone to get a deeper understanding about your specific case, enabling to provide you with a provisional treatment plan and cost estimate. Our oncologists will provide you all the details on medications, therapeutics and treatments including underlying mechanism and side effects. After a physical examination and an in-depth discussion with you on-site, the definite treatment plan will be discussed. Please understand that complex medical processes as mentioned above can only be explained through a thorough consultation on-site.