Breast Cancer – Genetic Tests Can Save Lives

Breast Cancer - Genetic Tests Can Save Lives

Breast Cancer – Genetic Tests Can Save Lives

ZDF sports presenter Jana Thiel got the diagnosis two years ago, since the beginning of the year the cancer also spread into the lungs. “Taff” moderator Miriam Pielhau, on the other hand, seemed to have defeated the disease after chemotherapy in 2008. But in 2014, the cancer was back – and had spread to the liver.

Breast cancer is best cured if it is detected early. That’s why self-regulation is an important way of prevention. Let her gynecologist explain how to feel her breast correctly.

Thus, Miriam Pielhau is not a sad case: In about one in three women there is a relapse (med.: Recurrence), in which the cancer can then attack other organs. Especially breast cancer patients are often affected by sleeper cells, which form metastases (daughter tumors) only years or even decades later. Therefore, according to experts, especially for breast cancer, it is also not true that women who remain free from signs of illness for five years are healed. Particularly insidious is that the sleeper cells are often not detected by any imaging technique such as ultrasound or computed tomography (CT), since they consist only of small tumor clusters or single cells in the tissue or bone marrow.


Nonetheless, the success of cancer treatment is crucially influenced by the experience of the treating physicians. Affected persons should therefore only be cared for in facilities where breast cancer experts work. This is especially the case in certified breast centers (or breast cancer centers). Such a breast center either consists of only one hospital department, but it can also be an association of one or more departments and general practitioners. In any case, there experienced therapists work hand in hand to care for the patients, for example doctors of different disciplines, such as gynecologists, oncologists, hematologists, radiologists or psychologists.

However, the terms “breast center” and “breast cancer center” are not protected. Therefore, the German Cancer Society (DKG) and the German Society of Senology (DGS) have developed a certificate for breast centers. The certificate is issued by OnkoZert, an independent institute, over which the certification procedure expires. The validity of the certificate is limited to three years. During this time, a random check will be made as to whether a center still meets all requirements. On the websites of the German Cancer Society and OnkoZert you will find lists of certified breast centers. More information: .

When it comes to the best treatment for breast cancer patients, however, more is needed than an experienced surgeon or the most modern device for radiotherapy. For many women it is also important that they feel comfortable in the respective center and have confidence in their therapists. So if you have the choice between several breast centers, you should have a look at all facilities in advance and talk to the doctors and staff. You should then decide for the center, where you have the best gut feeling – this can positively influence the success of treatment!


A crucial role to save the lives of thousands of people could also play genetic tests in the future. In mid-July, 21 leading experts from all over the world demanded at a congress in Israel to introduce nationwide genetic tests for all women and men over the age of 25 years. The guidelines in the world and also in Germany to investigate only relatives of persons with a proven high risk of genetic bias are clearly wrong, according to the experts.

Because often the family history is incomplete: diseases are kept secret or are unknown. And what about people who are adopted and do not know their biological parents? A non-knowledge that can be fatal: For example, carriers of some genetic mutations have a risk of about 85 percent suffering from breast or ovarian cancer during their lifetime.

If those affected were warned at an early stage by a genetic test, they would have the opportunity to initiate life-saving preventive measures in good time, such as breast amputation or the removal of the ovaries.

The best anti-cancer strategies: self-control. Let the gynecologist explain how to feel your breast correctly. Pay attention to any changes, such as size or mobility, as well as to knots and retractions of the skin.

Healthy Diet: Whether cancer develops has something to do with nutrition. Studies show that “5 a day”, ie three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruits, reduces the risk of breast cancer.

In addition, being overweight is a risk factor. A US study confirms the need for sports in breast cancer patients. Thus, the intensity of physical activity significantly influences the survival rate. Especially recommended as a sport is jogging.