Breast Cancer Treatment Overview
Cancer can start almost anywhere in the human body. The cell constitutes the most basic unit of life. An average adult has a trillion cells and approximately 242 billion new cells are produced everyday keeping us healthy. When the group of cells with similar functions come together, they form a tissue which further cumulates into organs and organ systems and eventually a human is formed.
But when cancer develops, this orderly process breaks down, where old and damaged cells survive with abnormal growth of cells called tumors. There are more than hundred types of cancer and one among them is the ‘Breast Cancer’ that mostly affect one in eight women during their lives. It isn’t typically associated with men but in rare circumstances it can also affect the older men.
Symptoms and Signs of Breast Cancer
Generally, breast cancer shows no symptoms in the early stage. To be on a safer zone, it is advisable to consult a doctor for a complete evaluation if you experience any of the below symptoms that include:
- Pain or tenderness in the breast
- A lump or an existing lump that gets bigger in the breast
- Changes in the shape of the nipple
- Nipple Discharge from one breast that is clear, red, brown or yellow.
- Swelling, Itchiness or rash on the breast
- Enlargement of one breast
- An ‘orange peel’ texture to the skin
- Vaginal Pain
- Unintentional weight loss
- Visible veins on the breast
Having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have a breast cancer. For example, Nipple Discharge can also be caused by infection or lumps in the breast are also non-cancerous at times. But timely precautions taken is better than cure to overcome the breast cancer in future.
Common tests taken
Physical Examination: The doctor will examine your breasts, the skin on your breasts, as well as check for nipple problems and discharge. They may also feel your breasts and armpits to look for lumps.
Medical history: The questions asked by the doctors to you would be about your health history, diet or medications followed, symptoms, including when you first noticed them, medical history of your family members because breast cancer can sometimes be related to your genes.
Mammogram: Mammogram which is an X-ray of the breast, to help distinguish between a benign and malignant mass.
- Benign: The cells that are non-cancerous and wont spread
- Malignant mass: The cells are cancerous and can spread to other tissue and organs respectively.
Ultrasound: Ultrasonic sound waves can be used to produce an image of breast tissue.
MRI: Your doctor may suggest an MRI scan in conjunction with other tests. This is another non-invasive imaging test used to examine breast tissue.
Biopsy: This involves removing a small amount of breast tissue to be used for testing.
Depending on the type and stage of cancer, treatments can vary. However, there are some common practices doctors and specialists use to combat breast cancer:
- A lumpectomy is when your doctor removes the tumor while leaving your breast intact.
- A mastectomy is when your doctor surgically removes all of your breast tissue including the tumor and connecting tissue.
- Chemotherapy is the most common cancer treatment, and it involves the use of anticancer drugs. These drugs interfere with cells’ ability to reproduce.
- Radiationuses X-rays to treat cancer directly.
- Hormone and targeted therapy can be used when either genes or hormones play a part in the cancer’s growth.
Of the above treatments, most common would include chemotherapy, radiation, and/or surgery.
Outlook and Prevention
The best way to fight breast cancer is early detection. Talk to your doctor about when you should start scheduling regular mammograms. If you’re further worried that your breast pain, tenderness or if you find the lump without any delay consult the doctor.