Breast cancer

Have you ever heard about the most beloved bollywood beauty “Mumtaz”? Yes, she is a breast cancer survivor who never gave up her battle. She never surrendered herself to the painful chemo sessions and surgeries. She fought back, stood straight, and is now the inspiration for the breast cancer victims.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in females worldwide. It accounts for 16% of all female cancers and 22.9% of invasive cancer types in females. Breast cancers are more common in developed nations than in developing nations.

Breast cancer usually affects the inner lining of milk ducts. It is malignant (cancerous). A breast cancer that started off in the lobules is called lobular carcinoma, and that which is developed near the ducts is called ductal carcinoma. Lobular carcinoma accounts for 8% of all the presented breast cancer cases, while ductal carcinoma is about 85 to 95% of all the cases.

Less common types of invasive breast cancer:

  • Inflammatory breast cancer
  • Paget’s disease of the nipple-cancer effecting in and around the nipple

In early stages, the breast cancer may be asymptomatic, so pain and discomfort are not present. The following symptoms indicate the presence of breast cancer,

  • Leakage from the nipple
  • Change in the breast size and shape
  • Color change in the nipple or the areola
  • A lump or thickening in the armpit or breast

What to do if I have breast pain?

  • In the early stages of breast cancer, you may not feel pain or discomfort. You must have a regular mammogram and a clinical breast exam that helps detect any changes in the breast.
  • Although, many lumps and rashes are benign (non-cancerous). If you suspect any lump or abnormality in the breasts; you must consult your doctor immediately.
  • You must perform breast self-examination every month; this helps you keep a track of your breast changes.

Although the causes of breast cancer are not so clear, the major risk factors may include:

  • No children
  • Late marriage
  • Too much stress
  • Imbalanced diet
  • No physical activity
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Exposure to radiations
  • Dense or heavy breast tissue
  • A family history of breast cancer

Women are diagnosed with breast cancer after a normal screening test or by the signs and symptoms. If you detect any abnormalities in your breast, you must no sooner contact your doctor; he/she will carry out the required diagnosis and tests. Below are the diagnostic tests and techniques for diagnosing the breast cancer

Screening tests

Breast examination

Your doctor would check the breasts for the presence of any lumps and other abnormalities, such as inverted nipples, discharge from the nipples, change in the size and shape. You will be asked to sit and stand in different positions which are routine while performing a breast examination.

Mammogram

A mammogram is commonly used for breast cancer screening. Its purpose is to find the breast cancer in its early stages, which helps in the easy and successful treatment.

Diagnostic tests

A biopsy is performed as a diagnostic test for confirming the breast cancer; it also helps your doctor to understand if cancer has spread to the other parts of the body. It is also helpful in determining the treatment options.

Monitoring tests

If you are diagnosed with a breast cancer, many other tests are performed during and after the treatment to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment. Monitoring tests are also helpful in checking the recurrence of the symptoms.

Based on the type and stage of cancer, your doctor would choose the best possible treatment option for you; it may include a local therapy or systemic therapy.

Local therapy

This treatment approach helps in the removal of the cancerous area, such as the breast, chest wall, and the lymph nodes near the armpit. It also prevents the recurrence of cancer. Local therapy includes radiation therapy and surgery to the breast area.

Systemic therapy or adjuvant therapy

Systemic therapy helps to get rid of the cells that have already spread to different areas of the body. It means drug therapy, which helps to travel throughout the body to kill the cancer cells. This therapy includes chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and targeted therapy. As systemic therapy is also to the breast surgery, it is called as an adjuvant therapy.