Breast Cancer is the 2nd most common cancer in females in our country only being surpassed by cancer-cervix. Most breast cancers are sporadic and due to multiple factors including hormonal and environmental. About 5-10% cancers are familial or hereditary.
Common risk factors for Breast Cancer are:
Signs and symptoms of Breast Cancer:
Most common presentation is a painless, lump in breast. Other symptoms are-
Sometimes, it presents with symptoms of metastatic (Disseminated) disease, like bony pain, paralysis, convulsions, cough, loss of appetite.
Tests required for Diagnosis of Breast Cancer:
For diagnosing breast cancer & to find if it has spread to other body parts, we have to perform some or all of the following tests:
For treatment point of view, Breast Cancer can be divided into three broad categories:
The treatment scheme is finalized by the team of doctors, specialized in cancer care treatment – comprising of Surgical Oncologist, Medical Oncologist, Radiation Oncologist, plastic Surgeon, Pathologist, Rehabilitation Team, Onco Nurse.
Early breast cancers i.e. – Stage I and II cancers are treated with surgery, systemic therapy (chemotherapy and/or hormonal therapy) + Radiotherapy.
Surgery is used to treat the primary breast lump and the armpit (Axilla). Modified Radical Mastectomy is the most common surgery performed. In this surgery the whole of Breast is removed along with the nipple and armpit (axillary) nodes are excised.
Nowadays the focus is on breast preservation (To save the breast) and more and more of breast conservative surgeries are done, In which the Tumor is excised along with 1-2 cm of surrounding breast tissue.
For cosmetic reasons, silicone prosthesis (artificial breast) & plastic surgery (myocuteneous flaps) can be done to reconstruct the breast & nipple.
Almost all patients are given some form of systemic therapy (Chemotherapy/Hormonal Therapy). All patients with breast preservation, receive radiotherapy.
Post Treatment Follow ups are important:
Follow up of these patients is done with clinical examination, every 3-6 monthly for first 3 years and then 6-12 monthly for next 2 years and then annually.