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Breast Cancer Treatment

Breast cancer is a prevalent and potentially life-threatening disease that forms in the cells of the breast. It primarily affects women but can also occur in men. Early detection through regular screenings and self-exams is crucial. Common symptoms include lumps, changes in breast size or shape, and nipple discharge. Breast Cancer Treatment options vary but typically involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or targeted therapies, depending on the stage and type of breast cancer. Survivability rates have significantly improved over the years due to advances in early diagnosis and effective treatments. Regular check-ups and awareness remain essential in the fight against breast cancer.

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About Breast Cancer

Breast cancer treatment in India depends on the stage and type of cancer, as well as the patient's age and overall health. Breast Cancer Treatment options may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or targeted therapy. 

Breast Cancer Types

Breast cancer is a complex disease with several distinct types, each with unique characteristics and treatment approaches. Understanding the various Breast Cancer Treatment types is crucial for proper diagnosis and tailored Breast Cancer Treatment.

  • Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS): DCIS is a non-invasive breast cancer where abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct. It's considered a very early stage of cancer and is typically non-life-threatening but requires Breast Cancer Treatment to prevent it from becoming invasive.

  • Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC): IDC is the most common type of breast cancer. It begins in the milk ducts and then invades the surrounding breast tissue. Breast Cancer Treatment often includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and targeted therapies.

  • Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC): ILC starts in the milk-producing lobules of the breast. It tends to spread more diffusely, making it harder to detect through mammograms. Breast Cancer Treatment is similar to IDC but may require a different surgical approach.

  • Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: This type lacks three hormone receptors (estrogen, progesterone, and HER2). It tends to be more aggressive and has limited treatment options, often involving chemotherapy and sometimes immunotherapy.

  • HER2-Positive Breast Cancer: HER2-positive breast cancer cells have an excess of a protein called HER2. Targeted therapies, such as Herceptin, are used in combination with other treatments to block the growth of these cancer cells.

  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC): IBC is an aggressive and rare form of breast cancer characterized by redness, swelling, and warmth of the breast. It tends to be diagnosed at an advanced stage and typically requires aggressive Breast Cancer Treatment, including chemotherapy and surgery.

Breast Cancer Symptoms

Breast cancer, when detected early, offers a higher chance of successful Breast Cancer Treatment. Understanding its symptoms is crucial for timely diagnosis and effective intervention.

  • Breast Lump: The most common symptom is a palpable lump or mass in the breast. While not all breast lumps are cancerous, any unusual lump or thickening should be examined by a healthcare professional. It may be painless or tender, and changes in size are significant indicators.

  • Changes in Breast Shape or Size: Breast cancer may cause changes in breast size, shape, or contour. Dimpling, puckering, or skin irritation on the breast's surface can also occur. These changes often result from cancer affecting the breast tissue's structure.

  • Nipple Abnormalities: Changes in the nipples can be indicative of breast cancer. This includes nipple inversion, sudden nipple discharge, or the development of scaly, red, or swollen skin around the nipple.

  • Breast Pain or Discomfort: While breast pain is a common symptom for many women and is often not related to cancer, persistent or new breast pain should be evaluated. It may be experienced as tenderness, a burning sensation, or a deep ache.

  • Enlarged Lymph Nodes: Lymph nodes under the arm or around the collarbone may become swollen or feel enlarged if cancer has spread to these areas. This can be a sign of advanced breast cancer.

Causes of Breast Cancer 

Breast cancer, one of the most common cancers among women worldwide, arises from a complex interplay of factors, and its causes are not fully understood. Nevertheless, several key factors and risk factors have been identified as potential contributors to the development of Breast Cancer Treatment.

  • Genetic Mutations: Inherited genetic mutations, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, significantly increase the risk of breast cancer. Women with these mutations have a higher likelihood of developing the disease, often at a younger age. Genetic testing and counseling are essential for those with a family history of breast cancer.

  • Hormonal Influences: Hormonal factors play a significant role in breast cancer development. Exposure to elevated levels of estrogen over time, such as early menstruation, late menopause, or hormone replacement therapy, can increase the risk. This is why hormonal therapies are commonly used to treat hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.

  • Family History and Genetics: A family history of breast cancer can increase an individual's risk, especially if the affected relatives are first-degree relatives like a mother, sister, or daughter. However, most cases occur in individuals with no family history of the disease.

  • Age: Advancing age is a major risk factor for breast cancer. The likelihood of developing the disease increases with age, with the majority of cases occurring in women over 50. Regular screenings are particularly crucial for older women.

  • Environmental and Lifestyle Factors: Some lifestyle factors, including alcohol consumption, obesity, and lack of physical activity, have been associated with a higher risk of breast cancer. Reducing alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy weight, and engaging in regular exercise can help mitigate these risks.

Procedure of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer treatment procedures vary depending on the stage and type of cancer, as well as the patient's overall health and preferences. However, some of the most common breast cancer treatment procedures include:

  • Surgery: Surgery is the most common treatment for breast cancer. The type of surgery performed will depend on the size and location of the tumor, as well as the patient's preferences. Some common breast cancer surgeries include:
    • Lumpectomy: A lumpectomy, also known as breast-conserving surgery, is a procedure to remove the tumor and a small margin of surrounding healthy tissue.
    • Mastectomy: A mastectomy is a procedure to remove the entire breast. There are different types of mastectomies, including simple mastectomy, modified radical mastectomy, and radical mastectomy.
    • Sentinel lymph node biopsy: A sentinel lymph node biopsy is a procedure to remove the lymph nodes that are most likely to contain cancer cells.
    • Axillary lymph node dissection: An axillary lymph node dissection is a procedure to remove all of the lymph nodes in the armpit.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It can be given externally, using a machine that beams radiation at the body, or internally, using radioactive seeds or pellets that are placed inside the body. Radiation therapy is often used after surgery to help reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be given orally, intravenously (into a vein), or topically (on the skin). Chemotherapy is often used to shrink tumors before surgery or to kill cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body.
  • Hormonal therapy: Hormonal therapy is used to treat breast cancers that are fueled by hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone. Hormonal therapy can block the body from producing these hormones or prevent cancer cells from using them.
  • Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy drugs are designed to attack specific proteins or genes that are involved in the growth and survival of cancer cells. Targeted therapy is often used to treat breast cancers that have spread to other parts of the body.

Side Effects And Complications Of Breast Cancer Treatment

Breast cancer treatment is often effective at targeting cancer cells, but it can come with various complications and side effects. These side effects and complications can vary depending on the type of treatment, its intensity, and the individual patient's health.

  • Fatigue: Fatigue is one of the most common side effects, affecting patients undergoing chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or hormonal Breast Cancer Treatment. It can be overwhelming, impacting daily activities and overall quality of life.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Chemotherapy can cause nausea and vomiting, which can be managed with anti-nausea medications. However, it can still be distressing for patients.
  • Hair Loss: Chemotherapy often results in hair loss, which can be emotionally challenging for many patients. While it's temporary, it can affect self-esteem.
  • Weakened Immune System: Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can weaken the immune system, making patients more susceptible to infections. This is particularly concerning during the Breast Cancer Treatment period.
  • Lymphedema: Lymphedema is a swelling of the arm or hand on the side of the body where lymph nodes were removed during surgery. It can occur months or even years after Breast Cancer Treatment.
  • Pain and Discomfort: Some Breast Cancer Treatment can cause pain and discomfort, both from the cancer itself and as a side effect of the treatment. This can affect mobility and overall well-being.
  • Changes in Body Image: Surgical procedures like mastectomy or lumpectomy can result in changes in body image, potentially leading to emotional distress.
  • Long-term Health Risks: Breast cancer treatments may have long-term effects on health, such as an increased risk of heart disease and secondary cancers. Patients should work with their healthcare team to manage these risks.

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