Breast Cancer: Diagnosis and Treatment

Breast Cancer forms in tissues of the breast, usually the ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple) and lobules (glands that make milk).

It occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare.

Survival Rate: 80% or above.

Symptoms

1. Nipple may turn inward or become flaky, red, or swollen.

2. Fluid may leak from the nipple.

3. Changes in the way the breast or nipple feels.

4. A lump or thickening in or near the breast, or in the underarm area.

5. The breast may change in size; the skin or the area around the nipple.

NOTE: In most cases, the breast cancer has no symptoms in early stages.So, at early stages Breast Cancer can be detected from the difference in the skin to other regions of skin of the breast.

Detection 

If you have any of these symptoms then you must consult your nearby health professional or doctor ASAP. There are some of these tests carried out

1. Physical Examination or Clinical examination by a doctor

2. An X-ray of Breast(Mammogram). This gives around 80% correct result.

3. MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

4. Ultrasound Exam

5. Blood Test

6. Biopsy (removal of part of the affected region which contains healthy tissues also).

To know more tests click Here : Cancer Tests

Depending on the age group, density and location of lump, different types of detection techniques are used.

If the results are negative in different tests, then no need to worry about it. If the results are positive, then you need a lot of courage in the coming days. You are going to need a lot of emotional support as well as financial and mental support from the people around you. Truly speaking, the next few months will be the most challenging period of your life. For you, there is more than 80% survival rate. These life saving drugs will save you only when you have a belief of your own survival. So, be pessimistic. This period of life has given you a chance to think something different in your life. Also, to start a new life. Meet with your family and friends. take their help as much as possible. This will help you to be emotionally strong.

Treatment

Meet with your doctor, ask them about your chances of survival and the stages of your cancer. Your doctor need to perform some more tests to determine the stage of your cancer. If the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body then there is very good chances of your survival. These tests will be performed by your doctor in next few days.

1. Estrogen and Progesterone tests: This test determine the level of these hormone in Cancer cells. If the level of the hormone is high then cancer cells will grow rapidly. This test tells whether blocking of hormone will stop cancer growth or not.

2. Human epidermal growth factor type 2 receptor (HER2/neu) test.

You can have a combination of treatment from these treatments:-

a. Surgery

b. Radiotherapy

c. Chemotherapy

d. Hormone Therapy

e. Biological Treatments

Some other treatments which are in trial stages are

1. Cryoablation 

2. Virotherapy

Depending on these factors,doctors decide about your treatment based on the different factors. If you have any problem with the treatment types, then let your doctor know about your problem.

  • The type of breast cancer you have
  • The size of your breast tumour
  • The stage of your breast cancer
  • The grade of your cancer cells
  • Whether you have had your menopause
  • Whether your cancer cells have particular receptors
  • Your general health

Hormone Therapy

It slows or stops the growth of hormone-sensitive tumors by blocking the body’s ability to produce hormones or by interfering with hormone action. Tumors that are hormone-insensitive do not respond to hormone therapy. For example, after the menopause oestrogen is made in body fat. It can stimulate the growth of some breast cancer cells. So hormone treatments for breast cancer lower the levels of oestrogen and progesterone in the body, or block their effects. This  therapy can be done either before or after the surgery based on your requirement.

You can read more about Hormone Therapy: Link 1Link 2 .

Breast Cancer

List of some books which you want to read during these days:

Living Well Beyond Breast Cancer: A Survivor’s Guide for When Treatment Ends and the Rest of Your Life Begins (2nd edition)
Marisa and Ellen Weiss
Three Rivers Press 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0307460226

This American book discusses all the physical and emotional issues that may arise when you finish cancer treatment. It can help to put things into perspective.

Gentle Giants – Powerful story of one woman’s unconventional struggle against breast cancer
Brohn, Penny
Ebury Press 1987
ISBN 0712615083

The biography of the founder of Penny Brohn Cancer Care (formerly the Bristol Cancer Help Centre).

After getting ride of your cancer,you can also share your stories with the whole world in your own words by writing your biography through this website.

Risk Factors = Cancer

Risk Factors

Doctors often cannot explain why one person develops cancer and another does not. But, there are certain risk factors which increase the chance that a person will develop cancer. These are the most common risk factors for cancer:

  • Growing older
  • Tobacco
  • Sunlight
  • Ionizing radiation
  • Certain chemicals and other substances
  • Some viruses and bacteria
  • Certain hormones
  • Family history of cancer
  • Alcohol
  • Poor diet, lack of physical activity, or being overweight

Many of these risk factors can be avoided. Others, such as family history, cannot be avoided.

If you think you may be at risk for cancer, you should discuss this concern with your doctor. You may want to ask about reducing your risk and about a schedule for checkups.

Over time, several factors may act together to cause normal cells to become cancerous. When thinking about your risk of getting cancer, these are some things to keep in mind:

  • Not everything causes cancer.
  • Cancer is not caused by an injury, such as a bump or bruise.
  • Cancer is not contagious. Although being infected with certain viruses or bacteria may increase the risk of some types of cancer, no one can “catch” cancer from another person.
  • Having one or more risk factors does not mean that you will get cancer. Most people who have risk factors never develop cancer.
  • Some people are more sensitive than others to the known risk factors.

The sections below have more detailed information about the most common risk factors for cancer.

Growing Older

The most important risk factor for cancer is growing older. Most cancers occur in people over the age of 65. But people of all ages, including children, can get cancer, too.

Tobacco

Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of death. Using tobacco products or regularly being around tobacco smoke (environmental or secondhand smoke) increases the risk of cancer.

Smokers are more likely than nonsmoker to develop cancer of the lung, larynx (voice box), mouth, esophagus, bladder, kidney, throat, stomach, pancreas, or cervix. They also are more likely to develop acute myeloid leukemia (cancer that starts in blood cells).

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People who use smokeless tobacco (snuff or chewing tobacco) are at increased risk of cancer of the mouth.

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Quitting is important for anyone who uses tobacco – even people who have used it for many years. The risk of cancer for people who quit is lower than the risk for people who continue to use tobacco. (But the risk of cancer is generally lowest among those who never used tobacco.)

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Also, for people who have already had cancer, quitting may reduce the chance of getting another cancer. An US Government Website, http://www.smokefree.gov, has an online guide to quitting smoking and a list of other resources.

Sunlight

Ultraviolet Radiation(UV) comes from the sun, sunlamps, and tanning booths. It causes early aging of the skin and skin damage that can lead to skin cancer.

Doctors encourage people of all ages to limit their time in the sun and to avoid other sources of UV radiation:

  • It is best to avoid the midday sun (from mid-morning to late afternoon) whenever possible. You also should protect yourself from UV radiation reflected by sand, water, snow, and ice. UV radiation can penetrate light clothing, windshields, and windows.
  • Wear long sleeves, long pants, a hat with a wide brim, and sunglasses with lenses that absorb UV.
  • Use sunscreen.

Ionizing radiation

Ionizing Radiation can cause cell damage that leads to cancer. This kind of radiation comes from rays that enter the Earth’s atmosphere from outer space, Radioactive fallout, Radon Gas, X-Rays, and other sources.

Radioactive fallout can come from accidents at nuclear power plants ( like Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster) or from the production, testing, or use of atomic weapons. People exposed to fallout may have an increased risk of cancer, especially leukemia and cancers of the thyroid, breast, lung, and stomach.

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Radon is a radioactive gas that you cannot see, smell, or taste. It forms in soil and rocks. People who work in mines may be exposed to radon. People exposed to radon are at increased risk of lung cancer.

Medical procedures are a common source of radiation:

  • Doctors use radiation (low-dose x-rays) to take pictures of the inside of the body. These pictures help to diagnose broken bones and other problems.
  • Doctors use radiation therapy (high-dose radiation from large machines or from radioactive substances) to treat cancer.

The risk from radiation therapy is slightly higher. You should talk with your doctor or dentist about the need for each x-ray. You should also ask about shields to protect parts of the body that are not in the picture.

Cancer patients may want to talk with their doctor about how radiation treatment could increase their risk of a second cancer later on.

Certain Chemicals and Other Substances

People who have certain jobs (such as painters, construction workers, and those in the chemical industry) have an increased risk of cancer. Many studies have shown that exposure to asbestos, benzene, benzidine, cadmium, nickel, or vinyl chloride in the workplace can cause cancer.

Follow instructions and safety tips to avoid or reduce contact with harmful substances both at work and at home. Although the risk is highest for workers with years of exposure, it makes sense to be careful at home when handling pesticides, used engine oil, paint, solvents, and other chemicals.

Some Viruses and Bacteria

Being infected with certain viruses or bacteria may increase the risk of developing cancer:

  • Human papillomaviruses (HPVs): HPV infection is the main cause of cervical cancer. It also may be a risk factor for other types of cancer. Do not have unprotected sex or share needles. You can get an HPV infection by having sex with someone who is infected.
  • Hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses: Liver cancer can develop after many years of infection with hepatitis B or hepatitis C. You may want to consider getting the vaccine that prevents hepatitis B infection.
  • Human T-cell leukemia/lymphoma virus (HTLV-1): Infection with HTLV-1 increases a person’s risk of lymphoma and leukemia.
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV): HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. People who have HIV infection are at greater risk of cancer, such as lymphoma and a rare cancer called Kaposi sarcoma.
  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV): Infection with EBV has been linked to an increased risk of lymphoma.
  • Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV8): This virus is a risk factor for Kaposi’s sarcoma.
  • Helicobacter pylori : This bacterium can cause stomach ulcers. It also can cause stomach cancer and lymphoma in the stomach lining.

If you think you may be at risk for HIV or hepatitis infection, ask your doctor about being tested. These infections may not cause symptoms, but blood tests can show whether the virus is present. If so, the doctor may suggest treatment. Also, the doctor can tell you how to avoid infecting other people.

If you have stomach problems, see a doctor. Infection with H. pylori can be detected and treated.

Certain Hormone

Doctors may recommend hormones (estrogen alone or estrogen along with progestin) to help control problems (like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and thinning bones) that may occur during menopause. However, menopausal hormone therapy can cause serious side effects.

Hormones may increase the risk of breast cancer, heart attack, stroke, or blood clots.

A woman considering menopausal hormone therapy should discuss the possible risks and benefits with her doctor.

Family History of Cancer

Most cancers develop because of changes (mutations) in genes. A normal cell may become a cancer cell after a series of gene changes occur. Tobacco use, certain viruses, or other factors in a person’s lifestyle or environment can cause such changes in certain types of cells.

Some gene changes that increase the risk of cancer are passed from parent to child. These changes are present at birth in all cells of the body. Certain types of cancer do occur more often in some families than in the rest of the population. For example, Melonoma, breast, ovary, prostate, and colon cancers sometimes run in families. This is linked to inherited gene changes, which may increase the chance of developing cancers. However, environmental factors may also be involved. Most of the time, multiple cases of cancer in a family are just a matter of chance.

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If you think you may have a pattern of a certain type of cancer in your family, you may want to talk to your doctor. Your doctor may suggest ways to try to reduce your risk of cancer. Your doctor also may suggest exams that can detect cancer early.

You may want to ask your doctor about genetic testing. But inheriting a gene change does not mean that you will definitely develop cancer.

Alcohol

Having more than two drinks each day for many years may increase the chance of developing cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, larynx, liver, and breast. The risk increases with the amount of alcohol that a person drinks. For most of these cancers, the risk is higher for a drinker who uses tobacco.

Doctors advise people who drink to do so in moderation. Drinking in moderation means no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.

Poor Diet, Lack of Physical Activity, or Being Overweight

People who have a poor diet, do not have enough physical activity, or are overweight may be at increased risk of several types of cancer. For example, studies suggest that people whose diet is high in fat have an increased risk of cancers of the colon, uterus, and prostate. Lack of physical activity and being overweight are risk factors for cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, kidney, and uterus.

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Finally, a detailed study on different avoidable risk factors associated with cancer are given below:

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