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

Diagnosing Breast Cancer

Mostly, breast cancer is diagnosed after a routing breast cancer screening or after detecting certain signs and symptoms and seeking the doctor. When the women feel any of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, it is advisable to immediately talk to the doctor. What the doctors usually do is to carry out a physical exam, and then refer the patient to a specialist if there are any further assessments needed.

Here are the examples of diagnostic tests and procedures for breast cancer

  1. X-ray (mammogram)- usually used for breast cancer screening. If there is unusual found, the doctor might advise to undergo a diagnostic mammogram. Professionals and experts cannot agree when should mammography screening should start and how often it should occur. Others say routine screening should start when the patient is 40 years old, while some insist on 50 as the right age.
  2. Breast Ultrasound- this kind of scan helps the doctor to confirm if a lump or abnormality is a solid mass or a fluid-filled cyst.
  3. Breast Exam- doctors will check both the patient’s breast, seeking for lumps and other possible irregularities, like nipple discharge, change in breast shape or inverted nipples. The female will be requested to sit/stand with her arms in different positions like putting the arms by her sides and above her head.
  4. 2D combined with 3D mammograms- Experts from University of Sydney, confirmed that 3d mammograms with regular 2D mammograms could reduce the incidence of false positives.
  5. Biopsy- a sample tissue will be taken from the lump surgically. After which, the lab will analyze if the cells are cancerous or not and what type of breast cancer it is.
    Sample of Mammogram result

    Sample of Mammogram result

    Image by Answer Medical Solution

A brief background about breast cancer

Breast cancer is the growth of cancer cells in the breast tissues. There are many types of breast cancer. Each type depends on what part of the breast the malignant cells attack. Lobular carcinoma is a cancer that starts with the lobes or lobules. Ductal carcinoma is a type of breast cancer which attacks the duct areas of the breasts. There are some cases in which breasts begin to swell and become reddish. This is referred to as the inflammatory breast cancer.

There are many factors to consider why women develop breast cancer. The development of malignant cells in the breasts is sometimes caused by health history and gene mutations. Such health history events include family history of breast cancer, radiation therapy to the chests, obesity problems, drinking of alcoholic beverages, taking hormones and not maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Concerning gene mutations, there are cases in which hereditary breast cancer is common. The breast cancer cells are commonly received from parents.

There are symptoms whether women have breast cancers. Such signs include lumps in the breast areas, changes in size and shape of the breasts, unusual flow of fluids from the nipples, swollen skin and dimples in the breasts. The field of medical science researched and developed methods on how to detect breast cancer. Such methods include physical exam, mammogram, biopsy, ultrasound, MRI, etc. These methods lead to the study of the causes, effects and possible solutions to alleviate the cancer cells in the breast tissues. Several tests are conducted and different strategies are undertaken to successfully remove or minimize the malignant cells development in the breasts.

One cause of breast cancer is obesity

One cause of breast cancer is obesity

Image by The Beauty Insiders

Pink Ribbon History

Nowadays, pink ribbon logos can be seen everywhere. Most people are aware that this logo symbolizes cancer. But, where did this logo came from? When did this started? Who invented pink ribbon?

The integration of the pink ribbon and symbolism came in two vast leaps. The first happened in year 1979, where Penney Laingen, the wife of a hostage was inspired by the song to knot yellow ribbon around the tress in her yard. The ribbon expresses her longing to see her husband again. Since then, ribbon became medium, ribbon became message.

After 11 years later, the second incident took place where AIDS activists stared at the yellow ribbons that had been saved for soldiers fighting the Gulf War and said, “What about for the boys who are dying here at home?” Then, the AIDS activist art group changed the ribbon bright red, since it symbolizes the color of passion, then looped it, spruced it up and delivered it onto the national stage during the Tony awards.

From that day, ribbons are everywhere which caused The New York Times declared 1992, the Year of the Ribbon. Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation was the first on the scene where they had been sending out bright pink visors to breast cancer survivors. The foundation gave out pink ribbons to each participant in New York City race. While Evelyn Lauder the Estee Lauder senior corporate vice president and a breast cancer survivor put ribbon on cosmetic counters in New York City stores which became a huge hit.  

Pink ribbon symbolizes cancer

Pink ribbon symbolizes cancer

Image by The Province

Angelina Jolie Masectomy

 

 

 

Angelina Jolie has been the talk of the town recently after she made a revelation that she has in fact had a masectomy. This was a hard decision for her but with her family’s record with breast cancer, she has a high chance to be having the same health risk if she did not had her breast removed.

Her announcement was done via the New York Times where she personally wrote an article detailing her experience. This was also done so that she can warn other people out there that there is a way to stop breast cancer from happening. Jolie wrote “My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman,”

The actress has since opened the eyes of women to this reality. Breast cancer is serious and can lead to death and if a person can stop it now, then it should be done.

 

 

Delaying Treatment

 

Just like any kind of illness, if you don’t get treatment immediately, you will have it worse. Breast cancer treatment should not be delayed, but unfortunately, not everyone has enough finances to afford treatment. Poor women who wait for weeks to get chemotherapy risk their health for doing this and it can lead to death.

Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer at ages 15 to 39 have more aggressive cases. The need for treatment is much higher, and having to do it immediately is necessary. Statistics say that 22% of these women who has delayed their treatment ,die 5 years after. This should be highly noted because cancer isn’t something to be taken lightly. People can be given more years to live healthy but not getting the right treatment as soon as possible. Always check for breast lumps and get a yearly full body check up yearly so any potential illness can be addressed.