A cancer cell changes growth reproduces too much and behaves abnormally. During breast cancer, these abnormal cells begin to grow in the breast tissue. This type of cancer refers to a variety of cancers that start in different parts of the breast.
There is a lot of information to process after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis, and it is normal to feel a lot of stress. Even more, it’s not even exclusive to age.
Take advantage of this information to gain confidence and control your situation or that of a loved one.
Remember, this article is for informational purposes, at no time does it provide an accurate diagnosis. Then, you’ll need to consult your doctor.
What are the symptoms and signs of breast cancer?
The symptoms of breast cancer can vary, but there are many that do not have any noticeable symptoms.
According to various studies, any of the following changes in the breast may be a sign of breast cancer:
- Swelling of part or all of the breast
- Irritated, thickened, or dimpled skin (orange peel)
- breast pain
- Nipple pain or nipple collapse
- Redness or peeling
- Nipple discharge outside of breast milk
- Lump(s) in the armpit
It may be that there are infections and cysts that cause these changes, but the right thing to do is to consult the doctor at the slightest change.
Why can breast cancer be undetectable?
When the lump is small, it is almost impossible to notice any unusual changes and detect the problem in time. Mammograms (X-rays of the breast) often reveal these types of abnormalities and require further investigation.
The first sign of breast cancer is usually a lump or mass in the breast. A painless, hard, bumpy lump is more likely to have cancer cells. It may also be tender, soft, and round.
The key to overcoming this condition is detecting it early. To do this, you can perform a monthly breast self-examination. Before any change, it is important to consult a doctor. When you are over the age of 40 or have a family history, you need to do an annual physical and mammogram.
What are the types of breast cancer?
The type of cancer depends on the area in the breast, if and where it has spread, and what special features it has. So, breast cancer can behave and respond differently to a treatment.
Breast cancer stages
Breast cancer staging describes the extent and severity of the disease. With this information, they can determine the best treatment.
What is the TNM staging system?
The TNM indicates the size of the tumor (T), the involvement of the lymph nodes (N), and whether cancer has metastasized (M). T1N2M0 tumors, for example, are small primary tumors with two lymph nodes that contain cancer but no evidence of metastasis. The stage has based on numbers.
The breast cancer process has five stages:
- Stage 0: Stage 0 breast cancer cells have not broken away from the original breast. Paget’s disease is usually in this stage.
- Stage I: Small tumors with limited lymph node involvement in invasive breast cancer.
- Stage II: Lymph node involvement. There may be a tumor from 2 to 5 centimeters.
- Stage III: The tumor is larger than 5 centimeters, and involves more than 4 lymph nodes. It can be on the chest wall or on the skin.
- Stage IV: Cancer affects various parts of the body, including the bones, liver, and lungs. It is aggressive and metastatic breast cancer.
WE DO NOT RECOMMEND reviewing information about your prognosis and survival based on your stage of breast cancer. It may be info that is outdated. Discuss your questions and concerns with your doctor.
How is an accurate diagnosis of this type of cancer?
- Mammography: detects cancer in the breast by taking a low dose of x-rays.
- Ultrasounds or sonograms: Creates high-frequency sound waves to create images of the inside of the body.
- MRI: A detailed image of the body’s organs and tissues using a magnetic field and radio waves.
- Biopsy: the only thing that can determine if the tumor is definitely cancerous.
Additional breast cancer tests (after diagnosis)
It is common for specialists to check the other breast. It is also common to do a sentinel node biopsy to find out if the breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
To find out if cancer has spread to other parts of the body, you may do an additional tests:
- CT scans
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scans
- Bone scans
- Bone scans: to detect cancer in the bones. They look for “hot spots” in the bones that may indicate cancer. It takes a few hours for the dye to move through the bloodstream until a bone scan.
- Chest x-ray: to detect lung cancer also.
- CT/CAT Scan (computed tomography or computerized axial tomography): Determines if cancer has spread to the brain, lungs, and/or liver. It also provides a more detailed view of the body. It’s a swallowed or injected contrast medium. This dye highlights specific parts of the body.
- Liver scan: Contrast medium for a liver scan. Makes a collection of dye in areas with cancerous growth.
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): Injects a contrast dye and then lays the patient in a tube-shaped machine that uses radio waves and a powerful magnet to take 3-D images.
- PET Scan (positron emission tomography): Monitors the body’s use of glucose, since cancer cells use more glucose. An injection of radioactive glucose is given, then the computer analyzes the images and finds areas with increased glucose use.
- Genetic testing: Determines if the cancer is an inherited genetic mutation.
Finally, there is a recurrence risk test before starting chemotherapy. A portion of a patient’s tumor is examined with Oncotype, Mammaprint, or Mammostrat to estimate the risk of recurrence if no additional treatment is given.
What are the treatments for breast cancer?
After the tests and biopsy, treatment plans for breast cancer may vary depending on the diagnosis. However, doctors can combine these treatment options.
Breast cancer treatment can cause infertility, premature menopause, and psychological problems such as anxiety and depression.
Surgical procedures to remove the tumor
It is usually the first step in treating breast cancer. A lumpectomy removes the tumor and a small amount of surrounding tissue. Instead, a mastectomy removes all of the breast tissue.
A plastic surgeon can also discuss breast reconstruction options.
Radiation therapy kills cancer cells and shrinks tumors using high-energy particles or x-rays. So, radiation therapy may be recommended after surgery.
The purpose of this procedure is to destroy any cancer cells that may remain after surgery and reduce the risk of cancer coming back.
In chemotherapy, cancer cells are weakened and killed at the original site of cancer, as well as anywhere else it has spread. It is also usually given after surgery to reduce the chances of recurrence, but it depends on the diagnosis.
Also before surgery, chemotherapy may be recommended to reduce the size of the tumor. So, chemotherapy is used to treat metastatic breast cancer.
It is also known as endocrine therapy or anti-estrogen therapy. It is recommended for a hormone receptor-positive breast cancer type, which grows faster when estrogen is present.
When estrogen is reduced and blocks its interaction with cancer cells, hormone therapy drugs reduce the risk of cancer recurrence after surgery.
This treatment targets specific characteristics of cancer cells, such as proteins that allow cancer cells to grow quickly or abnormally.
To treat breast cancer doctors can use the drug Trastuzumab caused of overproduction of the HER2 gene in cancer cells.
The immune system attacks cancer cells with immunotherapy drugs. By helping the immune system fight cancer cells more effectively, cancer immunotherapy drugs are highly effective.
October is breast cancer awareness month, a condition that completely changes the lives of women and men around the world. Remember that the key is prevention and compliance with studies, professional diagnosis, and effective treatment.
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