Breast cancer has become a more common disease among women in modern times. Once known as an older women’s disease, women in their 20’s are now experiencing more cases of it. Statistics reveal that the average breast cancer risk is 14%. This climbs by 32% for smokers. The incidence of breast cancer could also be inherited but is likely more too environmental factors and lifestyle. Studies show that two genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 should normally prevent cancer cell growth but when there are abnormalities in these genes, they can become the cause of higher breast cancer risk. Combine this with the present toxic environment and multiple carcinogens and the higher rates are easier to understand.
Typical breast cancer symptoms are the formation of lumps, swelling or skin changes in the breast. However, a cyst or an infection could also exhibit the same symptoms. Regular self-examination of the breast and an annual mammogram would help in early diagnosis of breast cancer. If there is a doubt and concern that breast cancer may be starting, further scans like ultrasound, MRI, CAT, and PET scans should be taken.
Breast cancer treatment depends on several factors, like the size and stage of the tumor, as well as the lymph node and hormone receptor status. Breast cancer is classified as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), and invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC).
Modern technology has ushered in several treatment options. They are surgery, radiation, hormonal therapy, and chemotherapy. These treatments could be done singly or in a combination of more than one. Normal breast cancer surgery, called lumpectomy, is done where only the tumor in the breast is removed. Normally, radiation therapy is applied as a follow-up measure to ensure that the remaining breast tissues are hopefully cleansed of cancer cells. In mastectomy, the entire breast is removed and in most cases followed up by radiation and/or chemotherapy. This is because the current understanding of cancer is that they really don’t know the cause or the extent so they recommend this in hopes that it gets all the cancerous cells.
In persons having invasive breast cancer, surgery and radiation might be supplemented by an axillary lymph node dissection. Further hormonal therapy or chemotherapy – or both – might be needed in a few breast cancer patients. Radiation therapy is an effective process for the destruction of cancer cells that might remain after surgery. Radiation therapy reduces the risk of recurrence significantly. The side effects of radiation therapy are dependant on the type, duration and health of the patient. Dietary changes and nutritional supplements are highly recommended.
If the breast cancer is hormone-receptor-positive, then hormonal therapy is a primary method of breast cancer treatment. Hormonal therapy stops the hormone known as estrogen to stimulate breast cancer cell growth. In recent times, aromatase inhibitors are preferred to tamoxifen, particularly for breast cancer treatment of post-menopausal women who have hormone-receptive-positive breast cancer. Chemotherapy is resorted to mainly to eliminate any cancer cells that could have spread from the breast to other parts of the body. However, the chemotherapy treatment regimen would differ with each individual. It is very important to be regular in the treatment plan and continue with follow-up checkups to avoid recurrence, as well as a change in lifestyle.