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Thursday, 22 September 2011

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast Cancer starts in the tissues of the breast. It can occur either in the ducts that move milk from the breasts to the nipples or in the tissue where the milk is formed. Breast cancer is curable if the detection of the same happens in the early stages.
  • A lump or nodule in the breast or the armpit region. As this lump grows, it gets attached ot the skin of the breast.
  • Lymph nodes become enlarged and papable in the axilla on the side of the disease.(Early detection)
  • Nipple retraction
  • Nipple discharge
  • Change in size and shape of the breast and the nipples
  • Change in the look of the skin surrounding the nipples and the breast region, looking reddish in colour
Risk Factors:
  • Delayed age at first pregnency. fewer children and shorter duration of breast-feeding.
  • Oestrogens treatment
  • Fibrocyctic breast disese
  • Exposure to the ionizing radiation
  • Early age at menarche and late age at menopause.
  • Family history of breast cancer.
  • Added to this is the lifestyle, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking increases the risk.
  • Self-examinations are important
  • Yearly mammogram (if dense breasts, MRI should be preferred over mammogram.)
  • X-rays after the age of 40 or even after 35 itself if there is a family history.
  • Physical examination
  • Blood test or Blood cancer marker test 
  1. CA 15.3: used to find breast and ovarian cancers
  2. TRU-QUANT and CA 27.29: may mean that breast cancer is present
  3. CA125: may signal ovarian cancer, ovarian cancer recurrence, and breast cancer recurrence
  4. CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen): a marker for the presence of colon, lung, and liver cancers. This marker may be used to determine if the breast cancer has traveled to other areas of the body.
  5. Circulating tumor cells
  • Biopsy
  • Lumpectomy - wherein the breast lump with a rim of surrounding breast tissue is removed
  • Mastectomy - removes whole or most of the breast and possible nearby structures.
  • Chemotherapy or Radiation therapy
  • Hormonal Treatment
  • Targeted therapy
Advances in the treatment of malignancies have been progressing rapidly along with the awareness of this disease thus patients are advised to go through regular follow-ups.