Breast Cancer Treatment Best Writers

What is Breast Cancer and Who is Affected by it?

Breast cancer is a form of cancer that affects breast tissue.  Breast cancer occurs when cells in breast tissues mutate and grow out of control. This growth leads to the formation of a tumor which is a mass of tissue.

Breast Cancer Treatment Best Writers

Breast Cancer Treatment Best Writers

Just like the other types of cancer, breast cancer invades and grows into tissues around the breast. In addition, it can spread to other parts of the body where they form additional tumors. This is known as metastasis.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women after skin cancer. Breast cancer affects women above the age of 50 years. Men also develop breast cancer though in a small number compared to women.

Breast cancer mostly affects women above the age of 50 years although it can occur at any age.

Types of Breast cancer

There are several types of breast cancer. They include;

  • Infiltrating/invasive ductal carcinoma – this type of breast cancer begins at the milk ducts and breaks through the wall of the duct as it proceeds to the tissue surrounding the breast. This type of breast cancer makes up 80% of all cases of breast cancer. It is the most common type.
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ – this is also known as 0 breast cancer. This cancer is often considered to be precancerous since the cells have not spread past the milk ducts. Ductal carcinoma is very much treatable. However, this condition should be taken care of to prevent its invasion and spread.
  • Infiltrating lobular carcinoma – this type of breast cancer often occurs in the lobules of the breast and spreads to the surrounding tissues. 10 to 15% of breast cancers are infiltrating lobular carcinoma.
  • Triple-negative breast cancer – this type makes up 15% of the cases of breast cancer. It is the most difficult cancer to treat. It is called triple-negative because it lacks the three markers linked to the other types of breast cancer. As a result, the prognosis and treatment of triple-negative breast cancer.
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ – this is a precancerous condition. Usually, there are abnormal cells in the lobules of the breast. It is not cancer as such but an indication of potential future breast cancer. Women with lobular carcinoma in situ should have regular mammograms and their breasts examined regularly at health clinics.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer – this is a rare and aggressive type of cancer. It resembles an infection. Some of its symptoms are redness, pitting, swelling, and dimpling of the skin of the breast. This type of breast cancer is a result of obstructive cancer cells in the lymph vessels of the skin.
  • Paget’s disease of the breast – this type of breast cancer affects the skin on and around the nipple.

Early Signs of Breast Cancer

Symptoms of breast cancer differ from one person to another. Some people also do not notice any symptoms hence the need for regular mammograms.  Common signs of breast cancer are;

  • Change in the shape, size, or contour of the breast
  • A lump or mass that feels like a small pea
  • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or underarm that persists through the menstrual cycle
  • Redness of the skin on the nipple or breast
  • A change in the appearance or feel of the skin on the nipple or breast, either inflamed, dimpled, scaly, or puckered
  • A blood-stained or clear discharge coming from the nipple
  • A marble-like hardened area under the skin
  • An area that is distinctly different from any other area on either of the breasts.

How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed

During diagnosis of breast cancer, the healthcare provider performs breast examination and cross-checks the family history, medical history, and current symptoms. Common tests done include;

  • Ultrasonography – this test uses sound waves to make images of tissues inside the breast. It helps in diagnosing abnormalities and lumps.
  • Mammogram – this test detects changes or abnormal growth in the breast. A mammogram is also used in the prevention of breast cancer.
  • Positron emission tomography scanning – special dyes are used to mark the suspicious areas. A special dye is injected into the vein and takes pictures with the scanner.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – magnets and radio waves are used to produce clear and detailed images of structures in the breast.

How is Breast Cancer Treated?

There are many treatment options for breast cancer.  The right option depends on factors such as the size and location of the tumor, whether cancer has spread to other parts of the body, and the results of the lab tests.

Healthcare providers tailor treatment plans to meet the unique needs of the patient. A combination of treatments can be used too.

  • Breast cancer surgery – breast cancer surgery involves the removal of the cancerous portion of the breast and the area surrounding the tumor. Depending on the situation, there are several types of breast surgery. They include;
  • Mastectomy – this involves removal of the entire breast. In some cases, the nipple and the areola can be spared. After mastectomy, women choose to undergo breast reconstruction.
  • Lumpectomy – this surgery is also known as partial mastectomy and involves removal of the tumor and a small margin of healthy tissue surrounding it. Lymph nodes in the breast and those under the arm may also be removed. Patients who undergo lumpectomy will also undergo radiation weeks after the surgery.
  • Sentinel node biopsy – sentinel node biopsy was developed to avoid the unnecessary removal of lymph nodes. In early detection of breast cancer, lymph nodes often test negative for cancer. Doctors usually inject a dye that can track the first lymph nodes to be affected by breast cancer. If the lymph node is free of cancer, then the other lymph nodes should not be removed. In most cases, more than one sentinel node is identified. The less the lymph nodes are removed the less the chance of developing underarm swelling.  Sentinel lymph node biopsy can be done in combination with mastectomy or lumpectomy.
  • Axillary lymph node dissection – axillary lymph node dissection is done to remove multiple lymph nodes affected by cancer. It involves the removal of the lymph nodes under the arm.
  • Radical mastectomy – this procedure is rarely done. It is only done if the breast cancer has spread to the muscles of the chest wall. During this surgery, the entire breast, the nipple, chest wall muscles, and underarm lymph nodes are removed.
  • Modified radical mastectomy – in this procedure, the entire breast and nipple are removed. Lymph nodes near the underarm are also removed. Chest muscles however are left intact. For patients who go through this procedure, a breast reconstruction is an option.
  • Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer – chemotherapy is often suggested before lumpectomy. It is done to reduce the size of the tumor. In other instances, it is done after surgery to kill any cancer cells remaining and to reduce the risk of cancer coming back. In cases where cancer has spread past the breast and to other parts of the body, chemotherapy may be suggested as the primary treatment.
  • Radiation therapy for breast cancer – this is usually given after mastectomy or lumpectomy to destroy any remaining cancer cells. In addition, it is used to treat people with metastatic tumors causing pain or other problems.
  • Hormone therapy for breast cancer – hormones such as progesterone and estrogen are used in the growth of some types of breast cancer. Hormone therapy is applied to either lower the levels of estrogen or to stop it from attaching to cells with breast cancer. Hormone therapy is often used after surgery to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.
  • Immunotherapy for Breast Cancer – immunotherapy relies on the immune system to target and attack cells with breast cancer. Immunotherapy treatment is usually given intravenously. Immunotherapy for breast cancer is used in combination with chemotherapy.

What is the Survival Rate for Breast Cancer?

The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 90%. What this means is that 90% of people diagnosed with breast cancer stay alive for the next five years after diagnosis. For breast cancer that has spread to nearby tissues is 86% while metastatic breast cancer is 28%.

Breast cancer cannot be protected 100% but several things can be done to reduce the risk of diagnosing it at an advanced stage. Routine mammograms are highly recommended. The first mammogram should be done at 35 years and every year for people who are 40 years and above.

In addition, it is important to self-examine the breast every month for people above 20 years. One can also have their breasts examined by a healthcare provider once every three years for people above 20 years and every year for those above 40 years.

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