Breast cancer fear: more inquiries to clinics

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Fear of breast cancer increases clinic requests

A few weeks ago it became known that the actress Angelina Jolie had her breasts removed as a precaution because of cases of breast cancer in the family. Since then, fear has also increased in Germany and has led to more inquiries in clinics.

High-risk patients increasingly ask questions At a recent film premiere, the 38-year-old Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie once again showed herself to the fans with radiance after her operation. This was one of the first appearances after she had her breasts removed as a precautionary measure for fear of breast cancer a few weeks ago. Her public commitment had apparently fueled fear among many women in Germany. In many clinics, appointments for appointments are fully booked for months and the telephones hardly stand still. A staff member of the University Hospital Munich said: "We were literally flattened." However, the feared wave of hysteria, which experts had predicted immediately after the case became known, failed to materialize. However, gynecologist Dorothee Speiser explained that since Jolie's public commitment in early May, the Berlin Charité received as many inquiries as it had in the entire first quarter. Around 180 women wanted to know whether they also have a high risk of breast cancer, whether genetic testing is possible or whether breast removal is even necessary. The majority of the women who inquired were so-called high-risk patients, so they had several cases of breast cancer in their direct relationship.

Expert advises to keep calm The actress had justified her decision to amputation with her increased family risk. The breast cancer risk gene BRCA-1 was discovered in a genetic test. Angelina Jolie's mother had also died of ovarian cancer at the age of 56, which indicates an increased family risk. However, Susanne Volpers from “Women's self-help after cancer” explained that only five percent of the female population was affected by a family cluster. Women should be well informed before a possible genetic test and also ask whether they really want to know the result. If a gene mutation is found, instead of a precautionary amputation, there is also the option of being examined regularly. The head of the Dresden Breast Center, Pauline Wimberger, advises: "It is important to keep calm" and "not everyone who has cancer in the family has this genetic defect." In addition, not every woman with this mutation, Removing the breasts is a radical step, says Dorothee Speiser of the Charité, who carries out 20 such operations a year at the Berlin clinic, which has recently been discovered at the Düsseldorf University Hospital, apparently by the model of Jolie have more patients at high risk have their breast removed.

Increased inquiries lead to staff shortages With around 74,000 new cases per year, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Germany. "The earlier the disease is recognized, the higher the chances of a cure and the gentler the treatment methods - if a diagnosis is made at a very early stage, there is often no need for surgery or the operation can be breast-conserving," says Dr. Jörg Loth, managing director of IKK Südwest. That is why advice and early detection are so important. Nationwide, inquiries at many university hospitals and breast centers have recently doubled or quadrupled. Pauline Wimberger said that in Dresden the numbers had "increased on average five times, on peak days even ten times." Since the headlines about Jolie's decision, Leipzig University Hospital has received more than 80 inquiries instead of two to three per week . Many clinics face the increased demand with organizational difficulties. For example, former colleagues at the Hanover Center for Breast and Ovarian Cancer were brought back for advice.

The director of the women's clinic at Ulm University Hospital, Wolfgang Janni, said that they are currently looking for ways to increase existing capacities. However, it is not easy to find employees with the relevant expertise. Many of the clinics also provide information and reassurance on the phone. The cancer information service of the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, for example, uses a checklist to clarify whether you should be examined. Christian Albering from the professional association of gynecologists said that breast cancer is now also an issue for gynecologists. Many women would now speak for the first time about family illnesses and take advantage of offers for counseling and early detection. (sb)

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