There are several medical specialties – cardiologists take care of the heart , eye ophthalmologists, brain neurologists and so on. There is also the mastologist, who aims to care for and study the breasts.
During life, it is recommended that visits to the doctor are made annually to find out if health remains up to date. In the case of the mastologist, periodic consultations should start for women over 35, but they can also occur at any other time. The same goes for men.
However, people often do not know what this specialization is for or when it is recommended to see a mastologist. With that in mind, we created this post to explain more about what a mastologist is. Check out!
What is mastology?
Mastology is the medical specialty dedicated to the care of the mammary glands. The mastologist is, then, the doctor responsible for the study, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of all breast disorders. In case of any suspicion, he is the specialist who should be sought.
The mammary glands are one of the parts of the body most affected by cancer cells. Because of this, it is common to find specialists in public and private clinics. Because breast cancer is a more common disease in women, it is normal for them to have more contact with this specialty.
It is recommended that a self-examination be carried out monthly. For this, the woman should raise one hand and, with the other, feel her breasts in search of lumps, masses or any irregularity.
If you find it difficult to slide your fingers across your breasts, this test can be performed during the bath, when your body is soapy. Self-examination should be done at any age from the first menstruation.
It is common, however, for men to think that they are not subject to breast cancer, as the condition mainly affects women. It is a fact that the number of occurrences is lower in the male population, but the possibility exists.
As in women, infections and cysts in the breasts are common among men. Therefore, in the event of any changes, it is recommended to see a mastologist.
What are the exams and procedures?
As we explained above, self-examination is the main ally against breast cancer and other diseases and infections. However, the person is not always able to find the problem during its realization.
Above the age of 35, it is recommended to start the annual preventive exam. In it, the specialist performs various analyzes and procedures to certify the health of the breasts. Some of the exams are:
- biopsies and breast punctures;
- magnetic resonance imaging of the breasts.
Remembering that not all exams are mandatory. The analyzes will be requested by specialists during the consultation.
When should I see a mastologist?
As explained above, it is recommended to start annual consultations with the mastologist from the age of 35. However, some situations can end up resulting in a visit. Women who are in the risk group (over 40, with a family history of cancer and early or late menstruation) should start monitoring earlier – and often more than once a year.
Contrary to what many people think, visiting the mastologist does not help prevent cancer alone. There are other diseases that can be prevented, such as:
- mastitis (inflammation caused by bacteria that can appear during breastfeeding);
- gynecomastias (abnormal growth of male breasts).
There are situations in which the ideal is to look for a specialist so that the exams can be performed and, thus, arrive at a diagnosis. Are they:
- when you feel the presence of nodules or masses during self-examination;
- if the diagnosis is positive for breast cancer – in this case, the ideal is to seek a mastologist so that a line of treatment can be formed;
- in cases of occurrence of breast cancer in family members – the ideal is to follow up with the mastologist frequently since early;
- when the person is over 35 – an annual visit to the specialist is recommended;
- in the case of treatment of breast diseases.
When in the self-examination or during the day a lot of sensitivity and pain in the breasts are perceived, the specialist should be consulted. In cases of plastic surgery on the breasts – such as reduction or reconstruction -, the ideal is that the intervention be done with a plastic surgeon accompanied by a mastologist.
How is the consultation?
The consultation with the mastologist begins like any other. At first, there is a conversation so that the specialist can get to know the patient better. You must tell us about your habits, health history (including family history) and possible complaints. Working as a short interview, this moment is called anamnesis.
Ideally, the patient should immediately remove all doubts from the specialist and inform what is important, especially if the consultation is due to any abnormality found in the breasts.
Soon after, a physical examination is performed on the breasts and, if necessary, the doctor will order some tests such as those presented above. As explained, these analyzes serve to ascertain whether there is a problem that has not been previously detected.
What tests are requested by the mastologist?
The most common exam ordered by the mastologist is mammography, followed by ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging. If any of these analyzes shows any change, a biopsy or puncture may also be requested. Below we explain a little more about each of these procedures.
A mammogram is a noninvasive imaging test – it is applied the same amount of radiation of an X-ray, but are designed to take into account the shape of the breasts. The images are produced from two plates that press the breasts for a few seconds and record them on a plate. The result is similar to the traditional x-ray. No preparation is necessary for this exam.
After the mammogram, the mastologist is responsible for analyzing your results and requesting more tests if necessary. It is recommended that the analysis be done annually from the age of 40, but it is recommended that it be discussed with the specialist.
Breast ultrasound is considered a complement to mammography, it helps in the detection and monitoring of breast changes. In this examination, the device works from high frequency sound waves, they provide images of the structures of the internal organs of the body, in this case the breasts.
Secretions in the nipples, cysts, nodules, thickening of the breast tissue are some of the many changes visible on examination. For women who have no history of breast disease, the test is recommended once a year from the age of 25. For those with a family or personal history, these numbers can be changed.
Magnetic resonance imaging
The MRI is considered an analysis of higher sensitivity, ie, it can detect cancer in the breast that ultrasound and mammography do not have the ability to diagnose. But, due to its high cost and low availability, it is not frequently requested. There are three main cases in which the exam is indicated:
- monitoring women at high risk of developing breast cancer;
- preoperative staging – is requested from the planning of surgeries;
- assessment of problematic mammography – happens when mammography does not clarify all problems and doubts remain.
Therefore, resonance should be requested in specific cases where the previous analyzes are not sufficient to clarify all dysfunctions and doubts remain regarding the health of the breasts.
Biopsy or puncture
The biopsy or puncture consists of the removal of a small part of the tissue in question for anatomopathological evaluation of the presence of cancer . The sample removed during the examination is analyzed by a pathologist and, if cancer cells are present, he will determine which type.
There are several types of biopsy, such as thick needle or fine needle, each with its pros and cons. The choice of the type of biopsy performed depends on the specific situation of each patient. Some of the factors that can be taken into account by the doctor are the size, the location, the type of injury, the number of tumors and personal preferences of the patients.
It is from the results of these tests that the doctor reaches a diagnosis and can begin treatment. As mentioned above, the analyzes can be requested individually or together so that there is a better result and understanding of the problem.
The most common treatments for benign nodules are follow-up and, depending on the size, surgical removal. In the case of breast cancer, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and removal of a breast or both may be recommended. Throughout the moment, there is the monitoring of the mastologist.
As with most diseases, prevention may be the best solution for problems in the mammary glands. Therefore, start self-examination after the first menstruation and see a mastologist every year after 35 for preventive exams.