Treatments for Metastatic Cancer

Basically, metastatic cancer is a cancer that has spread to other body parts from the part of the body where it began. When cancer cells break away from a tumor, there’s a possibility that they can move to other body parts through the bloodstream or the lymph system that contains a collection of vessels that transport fluid and immune system cells. This can start from the breast and transfer to other areas.

Based on their studies, people acquire breast cancer due to lifestyle, family history and other harmful drug intakes. Furthermore, victims of breast cancer may come from prostitutes or commonly referred to as the comfort women due to their unprotected sexual activities. Excessive sexual activities which may involve damaging women’s intimate body parts and areas may cause the development of malignant cells in the breast tissues. The Japanese armed forces did not give the due respect to these comfort women by putting them into sexual slavery without giving care to their body parts.

There are many effective treatments for metastatic cancer and these treatments are categorized into three main types:

  1. local treatment- for a specific metastasis that is causing problems
  2. pain relief
  3. systemic treatment- for cancer cells in the whole body

Cancer most likely spread in many places. Since cancer is so small in that area, patient doesn’t feel any symptoms yet as of the moment and it doesn’t show up on X-ray tests. So if patient has one or more metastases, the doctor will probably recommend a whole-body treatment aimed at all the cancers in the body. These treatments are the following:

  1. chemotherapy
  2. targeted therapies like Herceptin
  3. hormonal therapy
  4. complementary therapies
  5. new experimental treatments

But, patients need treatments that work fast to cure a dangerous problem, such as lessening the risk of bone breaks from areas weakened by cancer, cancer spread in the brain and spinal cord damage.

Doctors may also prescribe pain-relieving medicines until systemic therapy begins to relieve the symptoms. Pain relievers are great help as they can make the patient comfortable if the cancer does not respond to whole-body treatments. If the patient developed bone metastases, the doctor may add bone-building drugs over time.

Carrying groceries is one form of exercising

Carrying groceries is one form of exercising

Support group can help patients to be motivated.

Support group can help patients to be motivated.

Image by Blog wello and  The Times Weekly

Breast Cancer in Males

People usually associate breast cancer to females, but little did they know that breast cancer could also occur to males. Most people have this connotation that men do not have breasts so they are exempted with breast cancer. However, just like females, they also have breast tissue. However for men, the risk of having breast cancer is only 1 in 1,000 because breast cancer in men is a rare disease. Only 1% of breast cancer happens in men.

Here are the symptoms for breast cancer:

  • inverted nipple
  • lump felt in the breast
  • enlarged lymph nodes located under the arm
  • pain in the nipple
  • nipple discharge
  • sores on the nipple

Having enlarged breasts doesn’t merely define breast cancer. Sometimes, it is gynecomastia, which is caused by weight gain, heavy alcohol intake, marijuana use and medications. When men detect any of these symptoms, they need to consult their doctors right away. Early diagnosis could make a life-saving difference.

With regards to treatment, men and women have the same treatment for this condition. But according to the latest study, the treatment for men in the future may vary. Due to minimal patients available, male breast cancer has been a struggle to study. In UK only 340 men are diagnosed with breast cancer, compared to 48,000 women. However, researchers have been persistent to conduct studies and a significant finding was found. Both men and women have the same survival rates for five to ten years. Since there are only few researches found, experts used female breast cancer treatment to male.

Only 1% breast cancer happens in men

Only 1% breast cancer happens in men

Image by National Breast Cancer Organization

What To Do After Breast Cancer Surgery?

Most people who have undergone breast cancer surgery should take care of themselves since it is important to the health. In order to regain the health after surgery, they need proper exercise and healthy nutrition.

Common symptoms after surgery are nausea and vomiting. These are more common after chemotherapy or radiation. Other symptoms include “wasting syndrome” wherein the body wastes away from lack of nutrition, and loss of appetite or desire to eat. Some ways to ease symptoms of nausea after breast cancer treatment are drinking protein shakes, yogurt and liquid protein drinks, eating smaller meals like simple chicken soups with vegetables and broth.

 After breast cancer surgery, the body needs more protein than usual. Having good nutrition can help the patient recover from cancer. It requires repairing cells, healing incisions and fighting infection. Eating high protein foods such as dry milk, cheese, rice, potatoes, salads, peanuts, almonds and rice can help heal and regain the strength of the body faster.

One way to prevent recurrence is to eat foods high in phytochemicals. According to research, some phytochemicals has the ability to stop cancer from coming back. Soybeans such as soy milk, miso soup, and tofu contain phytoestrogens that is similar to the estrogen in the body. Some experts think that these can protect breast cancer. Another food that can protect cells from damage is antioxidants foods such as liver, mangoes and broccoli. Doctors advice to eat a balanced diet with a variety of fresh foods to obtain antioxidants. Moreover, to reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer, patients should eat foods with beta-carotene like apricots, yams and carrots.

breast pic 5

It is advised to eat soybeans after breast cancer surgery

Image by Kowalski’s Market

Everything About Secondary Breast Cancer

Most women have little idea about secondary breast cancer. While a small percentage of the population do not consider this disease as dangerous. Scientists and doctors called secondary breast cancer as metastatic breast cancer. Basically, this disease kills 1000 women each month in the United Kingdom and half of the population has no knowledge what this disease is about.

Secondary breast cancer happens when the breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body such as liver, lungs or bones. The cells in the bone are breast cancer cells. Most of the time, secondary breast cancer is diagnosed after the primary breast cancer. However, there are times that it can be diagnosed along with the primary breast cancer. While on rare occasions, some diagnosed this before primary breast cancer has been diagnosed.

The general symptoms of secondary breast cancer are the following:

  1. Feeling under the weather
  2. Being more tired than usual
  3. Poor appetite
  4. Very low energy levels

Most patients will experience at least one or two of the symptoms stated above. The symptoms depend on which part of the body the breast cancer has spread to. But in some cases, the cancer goes only to one or two places.

When a person is diagnosed with secondary breast cancer, it means that the cancer can no longer be cured, but it can still be treated. The goal is to deliberate and control the spread of the disease. Until now, scientists and experts have not found the cure for secondary breast cancer.

One of the symptoms is low energy

One of the symptoms is low energy

Image by Ultimate Energy Diet

Breast cancer in male

Breast cancer is rare in male individuals. A lot of factors can cause male individuals to grow malignant cells in their breasts. The risk of getting breast cancer is increased as men grow older. Men who have high estrogen levels can lead to breast cancer cell growth. Men with Klinefelter syndrome have higher levels of female hormones which cause them to grow breast tissues and breast cancer. Family history of breast cancer can have an effect on the probability of male individuals in acquiring breast cancer. Furthermore, exposing oneself to radiation can increase the risk of having breast cancer in the future.

The symptoms of male breast cancer are similar to that of the female individuals. Lumps, nipple pain, nipple discharge, swollen areas, etc. can be experienced by men who have breast cancer. Consequently, the diagnosis of male breast cancer is also similar to that of the female. Mammogram, ultrasound, nipple discharge examination, biopsy, etc. can be done in order to examine the breast tissues with cancer cells and to further eliminate cancer growth. It is important to conduct these tests and evaluations in order to spot specific areas in the breasts which contain cancer cells and to find the cause and solution of the breast cancer. Male individuals who are diagnosed of having a breast cancer can undergo surgery, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, etc. based on doctors’ approval in order to minimize cancer cell growth or eliminate cancer totally. These treatments should be immediate in order to prevent further cancer growth and its effects.

One treatment for breast cancer is chemotherapy

One treatment for breast cancer is chemotherapy

Image by Joe Martino

Breast Cancer Treatment

There are several ways on treating breast cancer. Treatment for breast cancer depends on the kind of breast cancer and how far it has spread. Most of the time, people diagnosed with breast cancer get more than one kind of treatment.

Below are the different kinds of breast cancer treatment

  1. Hormonal therapy- Prevents cancer cells from receiving the hormones they need to grow.
  2. Surgery- operation where the doctors remove cancer tissue.
  3. Radiation therapy- doctors will use high-energy rays same with x-rays to kill the cancer cells.
  4. Chemotherapy- The use of special medicines to shrink or kill cancer cells. The drugs can either be pills or medicines put in the veins.
  5. Biological therapy- Works with the body’s immune system in order to help fight cancer or control side effects from other cancer treatments.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Complementary medicine is used to add in standard treatments, while alternative medicine is used instead of the typical treatments. Some examples are yoga, vitamins, meditation and herbs.

Most of these medicines are not yet proven to be safe, hence talking to the specialist is recommended before starting any kind of complementary or alternative medicine.

Right Treatment

It is hard to define which is the correct treatment for the patient. It is best to talk to the physician or specialist about the treatment options available for the type and stage of cancer. Also, some people are getting second opinion to other doctor, which can define the right treatment.

Yoga can also treat breast cancer

Yoga can also treat breast cancer

Image by Medindia

 

Causes of Breast Cancer

Until now, doctors are still unsure what causes breast cancer. It is hard to define what causes the person to develop the condition while other person does not. However, here are some reasons why a person has breast cancer.

  1. Hereditary- There is a greater possibility that women who have a close family or relative who has/hard breast cancer can develop breast cancer also. However, most breast cancer cases are hereditary.
  2. Dense breast tissue- Women who have denser breast tissue have higher possibility of having breast cancer.
  3. Getting older- Age is a risk factor for breast cancer, when the woman gets older; she has bigger chance of developing breast cancer. 80% of female with breast cancers occur during 50 years of age.
  4. Having certain types of breast lumps- Female who already had some types of non-cancerous breast lumps has the possibility to develop cancer in the future. Examples include atypical ductal hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ.
  5. Obesity- Overweight women are more likely to develop the disease. According to medical experts, there are higher levels of estrogen in obese menopausal women that can be the cause of higher chances.
  6. History of breast cancer- Breast cancer survivor and even non-invasive cancer, can still develop this disease again, compared to those who didn’t have any history of breast cancer.
  7. Height- Until now, experts are not sure why women who are taller have higher risk of developing breast cancer than shorter women.
  8. Alcohol Drinkers- According to Mayo Clinic, woman should not exceed one alcoholic beverage in a day. The more alcohol a woman frequently drinks, the bigger chance of developing breast cancer.
Drinking too much alcohol can develop breast cancer

Drinking too much alcohol can develop breast cancer

Image by Women Health Mag

How to Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer

There are many factors that can influence breast cancer risk, and most patients who are diagnosed with breast cancer do not have any known risk factors or a history of the illness in their families. Here are several ways on how to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

 

  1. Maintain healthy weight- it is advised to eat healthy foods and prevent having excess weight.
  2. Exercise daily- Exercise at least four hours a week to have a healthy weight and it can reduce other diseases.
  3. Prevent drinking alcohol, or limit alcoholic drinks to at least one per day.
  4. Reduce exposure to radiation during medical tests such as X-rays, PET scans, mammograms and CT scans
  5. Have enough sleep. – At least 6-8 hours of sleep is needed to have healthy body.
  6. Prescribe to doctors regarding the best hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives like birth controls.
  7. If possible, breastfeed the newborns

 

Even though breast cancer screening cannot stop breast cancer, it can still help find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat. It is best to talk to the doctors about which is the right breast cancer screening tests and when should it be taken.

 

People may have higher chance of having breast cancer, if they have family history of breast cancer or inherited changes in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Therefore, it is very vital to know the family history and seek to a physician about screening and other ways to reduce risk of having breast cancer.

Consulting specialist can reduce risk of breast cancer

Consulting specialist can reduce risk of breast cancer

Prevention of Breast Cancer

Preventing cancer risk factors such as not getting enough exercise, overweight and smoking may avoid certain cancers. On the other hand, increasing protective factors like eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, and exercising may prevent some cancers. Seek professional help to doctors on how to lower risk of cancer.

Below are ways to prevent breast cancer

  1. Exercise daily- People who exercise at least four or more hours a week have higher tendency to reduce risk of breast cancer.
  2. Aromatase inhibitors and inactivators- these can reduce the risk of developing new breast cancer in women who have a history of breast cancer.
  3. Less exposure to estrogen- Lowering the time length a women’s breast tissue is exposed to estrogen can help prevent breast cancer.

Cancer prevention clinical trials are used to study different ways to prevent cancer

These cancer prevention clinical trials are used to educate ways on how to reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancers. Several cancer prevention trials are piloted to healthy people who never had cancer but who have an increased risk for cancer. While other prevention trials are tried to people who have had cancer and are trying to avoid another cancer of the same type or to decrease the cancer of developing a new type of cancer. And some are conducted to healthy volunteers who are not known to have any risk factors for cancer.

The main goal of some cancer prevention clinical trials is to look whether actions people take can avoid cancer. These include quitting smoking, taking certain food supplements, vitamins, medicines or minerals, or exercising regularly.

Smokers should need to quit smoking

Smokers quit smoking

Image by Hypnosis Center

Stages of Breast Cancer

Patient’s pathology report will determine the stage of the breast cancer- that is, whether it is only limited to one area of the breast, or it has already spread to healthy tissues inside the breast or other parts of the body. Basically, there are four characteristics of cancer, first is the size of the cancer, second is whether the cancer is in the lymph nodes, third is if it has already spread to other parts of the body, and last is whether the cancer is invasive or non-invasive.

Doctors can understand the prognosis and the best treatment for the disease through determining the stage of breast cancer. Another staging system known as TNM can be used in describing the cancer. Basically, this system is based on the size of tumor, lymph node involvement (N), and if the cancer has spread to other body parts.

Stage 0- This stage describes as non-invasive breast cancers. Basically, in this stage there is no evidence of cancer cells or non-cancerous abnormal cells breaking out of the part of the breast.

Stage 1- In this stage, the cancer cells are breaking through or occupying normal surrounding breast tissue. Stage 1 is known as invasive breast cancer.

Stage II- This stage is divided two subcategories known as IIA and IIB. In Stage IIA there can be no tumor discovered in the breast, however cancer is found in 1 to 3 axillary lymph nodes or in the lymph nodes located near the breast bone. On the other hand, Stage IIB can have tumor larger than 2 centimeters but no larger than 5 centimeters found in lymph nodes.

Stage III- There are 3 divided subcategories in this stage. In particular, no tumor can be found in the breast area or the tumor can be any size.

Stage IV- The cancer in this stage has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other parts of the body such as the skin, bones, lungs or brains.

Sample image of tumor on breast

Sample image of tumor on breast

Image by Steven Halls