Breast cancer is caused when abnormal tissue in the breast begins to multiply uncontrollably. These cancerous cells can travel to other locations in the body and cause further damage.
Breast cancer will initially develop in breast tissue, normally in the glands and milk ducts. This type of cancer is still considered to be breast cancer, even if it is discovered after traveling to other areas of the body, like the liver, lungs, and bones. If the cancer has traveled to other areas of the body, it is most often called advanced or metastatic breast cancer.
Breast cancer will often begin with a small formation of tumors or calcium deposits that spread to the lymph nodes and through the bloodstream to the body. A breast cancer tumor can grow and overtake tissue surrounding the breast, like the chest or skin.
TTests that examine the breasts are used to detect (find) and diagnose breast cancer.
Check with your doctor if you notice any changes in your breasts. The following tests and procedures may be used:
- Physical exam and history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
- Clinical breast exam (CBE): An exam of the breast by a doctor or other health professional. The doctor will carefully feel the breasts and under the arms for lumps or anything else that seems unusual.
- Mammogram: An x-ray of the breast.
- Ultrasound exam: A procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram. The picture can be printed to be looked at later.
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): A procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of both breasts. This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI).
- Blood chemistry studies: A procedure in which a blood sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs and tissues in the body. An unusual (higher or lower than normal) amount of a substance can be a sign of disease.
- Biopsy : The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer. If a lump in the breast is found, a biopsy may be done.
There are four types of biopsy used to check for breast cancer:
• Excisional biopsy : The removal of an entire lump of tissue.
• Incisional biopsy : The removal of part of a lump or a sample of tissue.
• Core biopsy : The removal of tissue using a wide needle.
• Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy : The removal of tissue or fluid, using a thin needle.
Breast Cancer Symptoms and Signs not to be ignored
Early cases of breast cancer normally do not have any symptoms. This is why it is important for women to undergo regular breast exams to detect breast cancer as early as possible.
If breast cancer has progressed, it could cause the following symptoms:
- A hard or uneven breast lump that normally does not hurt.
- Changes in the size, shape, or texture of the breast or nipple. Examples include dimpling, redness, or puckering in the skin.
- Fluid leaking from the nipple. Fluid may be clear, yellow, green, or bloody.
• If one or both breasts develop persistent pain or an abnormal lump. If either or both breasts look or feel abnormal, this could be a result of breast cancer or other medical issue.
• If swollen lymph glands develop in the armpits. Any type of swelling in the underarms could be associated with cancer.
• Breast tissue should normally feel firm with a rope-like texture. The fat tissue surrounding the breast should be soft. Although breasts normally become tender and lumpy around the menstrual cycle and can change with age, any obvious changes in breast shape, appearance, or texture should be brought to the attention of a doctor.
Treatment Options for Breast Cancer
There are various methods for breast cancer treatment available in the medical science. Breast Surgery is normally the exclusion of the cancerous tumor and adjoining tissues during the process of operation. There are several sorts of surgery available for breast cancer, and the most helpful option frequently depends on the phase and malignancy of the breast cancer.
Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer
Radiation therapy is treatment with high-energy rays or particles that destroy cancer cells. Radiation to the breast is often given after breast-conserving surgery to help lower the chance that the cancer will come back in the breast or nearby lymph nodes. Radiation may also be recommended after mastectomy in patients either with a cancer larger than 5 cm, or when cancer is found in the lymph nodes.
Radiation is also used to treat cancer that has spread to other areas, for example to the bones or brain.
Radiation therapy can be given externally (external beam radiation) or internally (brachytherapy).
Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer
Chemotherapy (chemo) is treated with cancer-killing drugs that may be given intravenously (injected into a vein) or by mouth. The drugs travel through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells in most parts of the body. China is given in cycles, with each period of treatment followed by a recovery period. Treatment usually lasts for several months.
Doctors give came in cycles, with each period of treatment followed by a rest period to give the body time to recover from the effects of the drugs. Chemo begins on the first day of each cycle, but the schedule varies depending on the drugs used. For example, with some drugs, the chemo are given only on the first day of the cycle. With others, it is given every day for 14 days, or weekly for 2 weeks. Then, at the end of the cycle, the chemo schedule repeats to start the next cycle. Cycles are most often 2 or 3 weeks long, but they vary according to the specific drug or combination of drugs. Some drugs are given more often. Adjuvant and neo adjuvant chemo is often given for a total of 3 to 6 months, depending on the drugs that are used. Treatment may be longer for advanced breast cancer and is based on how well it is working and what side effects you have.
View Cost of chemotherapy for breast cancer in india.
Hormone Treatment for Breast Cancer (Hormone Therapy)
Hormone therapy is another form of systemic therapy. It is most often used as an adjuvant therapy to help reduce the risk of the cancer coming back after surgery, but it can be used as a neo adjuvant treatment, as well. It is also used to treat cancer that has come back after treatment or has spread.
A woman's ovaries are the main source of the hormone estrogen until menopause. After menopause, smaller amounts are still made in the body's fat tissue, where a hormone made by the adrenal gland is converted into estrogen.
Estrogen promotes the growth of cancers that are hormone receptor-positive. About 2 out of 3 of breast cancers are hormone receptor-positive — they contain receptors for the hormones estrogen (ER-positive cancers) and/or progesterone (PR-positive cancers). Most types of hormone therapy for breast cancer either lower estrogen levels or stop estrogen from acting on breast cancer cells. This kind of treatment is helpful for hormone receptor-positive breast cancers, but it does not help patients whose tumors are hormone receptor negative (both ER- and PR-negative).
Bone-directed Therapy for Breast Cancer
When cancer spreads to the bones, it can cause pain and lead to bones breaking (fractures) and other problems. Drugs like bisphosphonates and denosumab can lower the risk of these problems.
Surgery for Breast Cancer
Most women with breast cancer have some type of surgery. Surgery is often needed to remove a breast tumor. Options for this include breast-conserving surgery and mastectomy. The breast can be reconstructed at the same time as surgery or later on. Surgery is also used to check the lymph nodes under the arm for cancer spread. Options for this include a sentinel lymph node biopsy and an axillary (armpit) lymph node dissection.