Saint Agatha's Story


A Catholic doctor shares his thoughts on eary breast cancer detection with a story about its patron saint.

The Catholic church exercised an important influence in Medicine during the Middle Age's and invoked several saints for protection of diseases, and so comes from this period the story of Agatha.

She lived in Sicily in the midle of third century, in the reign of the Romans. Agatha was a woman of rare beauty. She came from a noble and illustrious family and dedicated her life to religion.

Governor Quintiamus wanted to possess her but she refused, desirous of maintaining her chastity. Due to resistance of Agatha to the governor's sexual advances he ordered that her breasts be torn off with iron shears and this became the Martyrdom of St.Agatha. She was sent to a dungeon to die and some time later the Lord sent an angel to restore and heal her breasts. Quintiamus was filled with rage and furiously directed that Agatha be burned alive. Because of her martyrdom she became the Patron Saint of diseases of the breast for the catholic church.

In ninety-nine percent of the cases of breast cancer it reaches the woman, therefore it is basically a disease of the woman, so every woman is at risk. The possibility of developing breast cancer increases as a woman ages, if
she has a family history of breast cancer, has never had children, or had her first child after age 35. However, most breast cancer occur in women who have no identifiable risk factors.

It is important to know that, in spite of all the resources that Medicine counts now, the cure and the chance of survival is tied up to the precocious, (early) diagnosis of the disease, a fact that has allowed conservative surgery of the breast, without harming the efficiency of the treatment. (lympectomy).

Mammography is the most important exam for early diagnosis and should be done every two years of age from 45 to 50 and every year after the age of 50, because it shows a lesion that the physical exam is not capable of detecting. Even if the diagnosis is made by a doctor during a physical exam and a nodule (mass) if found great cure chance still exists, and of survival, since this nodule is of small dimension (up to two centimeters). Every women must undergoe periodic exams, with your doctor, and learn with your health care provider how to perform a breast self examination.

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