Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is cancer that develops from breast tissue. Breast cancer can occur in women and rarely in men. Symptoms of breast cancer include a lump in the breast, bloody discharge from the nipple and changes in shape or texture of the nipple or breast.Its treatment depends on the stage of cancer. It may consist of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.

Signs and symptoms

Breast cancer most commonly presents as a painless lump or thickening in the breast. It is important that women finding an abnormal lump in the breast consult a health practitioner without a delay of more than 1-2 months even when there is no pain associated with it. Seeking medical attention at the first sign of a potential symptom allows for more successful treatment.

symptoms of breast cancer include :

1.Change in size, shape or appearance of a breast.

2.Breast lump or thickening.

3.Change in nipple appearance or alteration in the skin surrounding the nipple.

4.Dimpling, redness, pitting or other alteration in the skin.

5.Abnormal nipple discharge.

 As many as 90% of breast masses are not cancerous. Non-cancerous breast abnormalities include benign masses like fibroadenomas and cysts as well as infections.  Breast cancers may spread to other areas of the body and trigger other symptoms. Often, the most common first detectable site of spread is to the lymph nodes under the arm although it is possible to have cancer-bearing lymph nodes that cannot be felt.cancerous cells may spread to other organs including the lungs, liver, brain and bones. Once they reach these sites, new cancer-related symptoms such as bone pain or headaches may appear.

Treatment

Breast cancer is usually treated with surgery, which may be followed by chemotherapy or radiation therapy, or both.In the past, all breast cancers were treated surgically by mastectomy (complete removal of the breast). When cancers are large, mastectomy may still be required. Today, the majority of breast cancers can be treated with a smaller procedure called a “lumpectomy” or partial mastectomy, in which only the tumor is removed from the breast. In these cases, radiation therapy to the breast is generally required to minimize the chances of recurrence in the breast.

Lymph nodes are removed at the time of cancer surgery for invasive cancers. Complete removal of the lymph node bed under the arm (complete axillary dissection) in the past was thought to be necessary to prevent the spread of cancer. A smaller lymph node procedures called “sentinel node biopsy” is now preferred as it has fewer complications. It uses dye and/or a radioactive tracer to find the first few lymph nodes to which cancer could spread from the breast.

Radiotherapy also plays a very important role in treating breast cancer. With early stage breast cancers, radiation can prevent a woman having to undergo a mastectomy. With later stage cancers, radiotherapy can reduce cancer recurrence risk even when a mastectomy has been performed. For advanced stage of breast cancer, in some circumstances, radiation therapy may reduce the likelihood of dying of the disease.

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