This blog covers most quintessential details about breast cancer, which is touted as the second leading cause of death in women worldwide. It develops in the breast cells of both men and women but is most frequent in females.
What Is Breast Cancer?
It is a disease which begins with an uncontrollable growth of the breast cells that are malignant in nature and proliferates into the distant areas of the body.
Types of breast cancers are the following:-
- Ductal carcinoma in situ– it is of non- invasive type where diseased cells are found in the lining of the milk duct in the breast. The abnormal cells do not proliferate outside the milk duct to the surrounding breast tissues until they are left untreated and undetected.
- Invasive ductal carcinoma- it develops in the milk duct but invades into other parts of the breast tissue. These cancer cells are potent to spread in other parts of the body as well.
- Inflammatory breast cancer- it is a type of aggressive breast cancer where diseased cells infiltrate the skin and lymph vessels of the breast. This breast cancer begins to show symptoms when the lymph vessels become blocked by the breast cancer cells.
- Metastatic breast cancer- it is also known as Stage -4 breast cancer as it has already spread in the other body parts such as liver, lungs, bones and brain.
What are its risk factors?
Many conditions are risk factors to breast cancer, they are:-
- Alcohol intake
- Family history
- Reproductive history
- Oral contraceptives
- Hormone replacement therapy
- High socio-economic status
- Exposure to ionizing agents
What are the early symptoms of breast cancer?
Breast cancer can be treated with success if its early signs or symptoms can be identified. Following are the early symptoms:-
- The nipple pulls in or a change in shape gets visible.
- There’s a liquid discharge from the nipple.
- Change in skin’s texture becomes visible, such as dimpling.
- Appearance of rash or redness on the breast or around the nipple.
- Swelling in the armpit or around the collar bone.
- Appearance of the lump in the breast that feels different from the rest.
Diagnosis can be done on the basis of physical examination, family history and investigations.
The physical examination comprises breast analysis besides the other system analysis.
Investigation – it includes the following:-
- Ultra-sound– it is done to measure the exact size and location of the lump and have a close look at the surrounding tissues.
- Diagnostic Mammography– it provides a more detailed X-Ray of the breast with specialized techniques.
- MRI(magnetic resonance imaging) – it helps scanning the tissues make detailed picture of the areas in the breast. The obtained images help in distinguishing the normal tissues from the diseased ones.
- Biopsy– it is the most precise procedure that is done to verify the cancerous growth. Here, the tissue or sometimes fluid is removed and examined to check for the presence of breast cancer.
There are five treatment options that are generally used alone or in combination for an effective treatment plan, such as surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies.
- Chemotherapy: this method employs a combination of drugs to either kill the cancer cells or slow down its pace. It is given based on the following factors:
- Tumor size
- Tumor grade
- Tumor type
- Type of receptors
- Risk of cancer to spread elsewhere in the body
It is prescribed along with hormonal and targeted therapy.
- Radiation therapy: it is used to kill cancer cells using high-energy rays. This therapy is also employed after surgery to destroy any remaining diseased cell. Radiation therapy is prescribed to patient with Stage 0 DICS or Stage 1 invasive cancer or higher, who have had a lumpectomy.
- Hormone therapy- hormones like estrogen and progesterone help regulate body cycles but sometimes can facilitate cancer growth. Under the later condition, the doctor may recommend the hormone therapy drugs, such as blockers or inhibitors. These drugs are used in cases of cancers which are hormone receptors positive (ER/PR positive). Both types of drugs destroy the cancer cells by cutting of their supply of hormones.
- Targeted therapy: under this therapy only specific breast cancer cells are attacked without harming the normal cells. This therapy has less side-effects than in chemotherapy.
For example: Targeted therapy, such as lab manufactured protein known as Herceptin, blocks the action of an abnormal protein, known as HER2, that stimulates the growth of breast cancer cells in HER2 neu positive type of cancers.
It involves removal of tumor cells from the site of its development. It includes the following:
- Partial mastectomy
How much does breast cancer treatment cost in India?
Type of Breast Cancer Surgery / Treatment
Breast Conservation Surgery
Modified Radical Mastectomy
What are the preventive ways for breast cancer?
- By keeping a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Try to get sleep
- Limit the intake of alcohol
- Breast feed the baby
- Regular health checks (ultrasound/mammogram)
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