Cancer that arises in the breast(s) due to the uncontrollable growth of cells is known as breast cancer. This condition occurs when the healthy cells start to grow out of control. Let’s understand the condition by busting a few common myths.
Only women suffer from Breast Cancer.
Men can get it too.
Breast Cancer doesn’t affect younger women.
It can affect anybody, however, older women are at greater risk.
Mammograms can cause Breast Cancer.
A mammogram doesn’t cause Breast Cancer, however, it detects it.
There is no treatment for Breast Cancer.
Various treatment options are available for Breast Cancer patients.
A healthy lifestyle can prevent Breast Cancer.
It cannot fully prevent Breast Cancer because its major cause is still not clear.
Screening refers to checking a woman’s breasts for Breast Cancer before the signs and symptoms of the disease occur. Breast Cancer screening can not prevent or manage the disease, but it can help the patient to get it diagnosed and treated at an early stage. Your healthcare provider will tell you the best screening method and its benefits and risks.
It is an x-ray picture of the breasts. Medical practitioners use mammograms to look for early signs of Breast Cancer. Regular mammograms help to find Breast Cancer at an early stage, for it to be treated effectively.
The Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) test involves the use of a powerful magnetic field, radio waves, and a computer for producing detailed images of the structures within the breast. It is usually done after a mammogram. It helps to evaluate abnormalities observed and noted through a mammogram.
Your healthcare provider will check your breasts and armpits to feel any abnormality or lump on your skin (if any). After this process, your healthcare provider will guide you for further tests (if needed). A breast self-exam can also be conducted at home.
A Breast Ultrasound is a process of diagnosis that uses sound waves for producing pictures of structures deep within the body. It helps to detect the lump and helps to determine the state of that lump (solid or fluid-filled cyst).
It is the only definite way to Diagnose Breast Cancer. With the help of a specialized needle device guided by X-ray or any other imaging test, a core of tissue from the suspicious area of the Breast is extracted. Such a sample is sent to the laboratory to detect the cancer cells.
For the treatment of Breast Cancer, there are several methods, out of which your healthcare provider will decide which method will suit you the best (according to your medical condition and the seriousness of the disease). Following are the types of treatment.
In this type of surgery, the tumor is removed by the surgeon, along with some rounding healthy tissues. It may be indicated to patients having small tumors. Also, this surgery is often recommended with other treatment methods like chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
In this surgery, the whole of the breast (including all the breast tissues including the lobules, ducts, fatty tissue, nipple, and areola) is removed from the body. This procedure is initiated under general anesthesia. The types of Mastectomy surgery are Simple Mastectomy, Modified Radical Mastectomy, Radical Mastectomy, Partial Mastectomy, and Subcutaneous (nipple-sparing) Mastectomy.
This surgery includes the removal of a certain number of lymph nodes from the body. It is done when the tumor has spread to the lymphatic system of the human body.
This type of surgery is recommended to those patients who have gone through sentinel node biopsy and cancer is detected in those lymph nodes. Therefore, the surgeon will advise you to get your additional lymph nodes (present in the armpit) removed.
Many women who go through Mastectomy get both breasts removed (including the healthy ones). This is due to an increased risk of developing cancer in the other breast later in the future because of family history, i.e., mother or sister having Breast Cancer.
In this therapy, high-powered energy beams (protons and x-rays) are used to kill cancer. In the studies, no notable long-term side effect of Radiation Therapy was identified. Most of the time, this therapy is indicated to patients in combination with some other method of treatment.
In this type of treatment, drugs are used in order to kill the cancer cells in the human body. Chemotherapy is often indicated to patients after surgery. Also, it may be used before the surgery in patients with larger tumors to decrease the size of the tumor.
Cancer in the breast that is sensitive to hormones demands Hormone Therapy. It can be used before or after the surgery, but most often in combination with the surgery for better efficacy. It uses medications like fulvestrant injection to block the attachment of hormones and cancer cells. They also stop the production of estrogen (possibly after menopause) and hormones in the ovaries of the patient.
During this therapy, the breast cancer medication attack some abnormalities associated with the cancer cells. Those drugs can destroy cancer cells specifically. Often it is used to lower the multiplication and spread of cancer cells in the human body.
In this therapy, the immune system of the patient fights cancer in the breasts. Immunotherapy is majorly indicated to patients having Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.
After the treatment of Breast Cancer, follow-up care is essential for maintaining good health throughout. The recovery process is initiated through post-treatment strategies like eating nutritional foods, managing the side effects after treatment, and noting all the changes you observe. Such steps help the patient to recover sooner and live a happier and healthier life.
- Protein-rich food items
- High-fiber cereals
- Whole grains
- High-fat meats
- Processed foods
- Dehydrated food items
- High-fat dairy products
- Dry baked foods like crackers
- Over-cooked food items
- Alcoholic drinks
Some side effects may occur and last long after the treatment of Breast Cancer. They may hinder the normal lifestyle of the patient. Some of them are:
- Mood changes
- Hot flashes
- Body ache
- Lowered sex drive
- Vaginal dryness
Such side effects should be noted and discussed with the healthcare provider.
The word Palliative is derived from “palliate” which means “to make it less severe without removing the cause”. Palliative care, thus, means to relieve the patients after treatment. Palliative Care is offered by various medical organizations and hospitals. It is advisable to tell your healthcare provider about the following beforehand:
- Your sentimental perspectives of quality life.
- Your personal, religious, cultural ideas, values, or beliefs (that are relevant and vital to be considered during your treatment).
- Your medical history and condition.
Before initiating any kind of follow-up care, make sure to take advice from your healthcare provider.
Certain lifestyle changes can help you in decreasing the risk of developing cancer in the breasts. Some of them are listed below.
Healthy weight is the major factor, often associated with Breast Cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight is a challenge though. To do so, one must plan a diet and exercise schedule with the help of a healthcare provider. You can then check if your weight is normal or not, according to the BMI rule.
Try to add regular exercise and physical activity to your daily routine. Brisk walking, running and other exercises are a must to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Consumption of Alcohol should be limited (avoided preferably) because most types of cancers are associated with the high consumption of alcohol and other related drinks.
If you were asked by your healthcare provider to take birth control pills with certain medication or you took those pills on your own, it is necessary to consult your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any symptoms of Breast Cancer. This is because taking birth control pills might increase your risk of developing cancer in the breasts. However, if you are not asked by your doctor, avoid the same or consult your healthcare provider first.
Eating healthy and nutritional food items may decrease your risk of developing Breast Cancer. Enrich your diet with the elements of the Mediterranean diet such as-
- Olive oil
Make sure that you are not using these tips as a substitute for treatment and other medications.