Breast cancer- A lump in the breast
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. The first sign of the breast cancer is a lump or a thickened tissue in the breast. Though all breast lumps are not cancerous, they require immediate examination by a medical expert. There are many types of breast cancer which can be categorized by the way they metastasize (malignant cells that spread to the other parts of the body).
266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in 2018 in the U.S. About 1 in 8 women develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime– source
The following are the symptoms of breast cancer:
- A lump or thickening of a tissue in the breast.
- A pain in the breasts or armpits which does not subside with the change in monthly cycle.
- Dimpling or reddening of the breast skin.
- A discharge from the nipple (maybe blood).
- Change in the size and shape of the breast or nipple.
- A sunken nipple.
- Peeling or scaling of the breast skin.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit or neck.
Treatment of breast cancer
The lump in the breast is physically examined by the doctor, and by tests like mammography, ultrasound, MRI, and a biopsy. The treatment is decided as per the prevailing stage of cancer (0-4).
Depending on the diagnosis, the options of surgery include Lumpectomy, Mastectomy, Sentinel Node Biopsy, and Axillary Lymph node dissection. It is usually followed by a ‘Reconstruction’ surgery to make the breast look similar to the other one. The surgery is followed by the Radiation therapy, which can have some adverse effects. If the tumor is large, or there is a risk of spreading or recurrence, Chemotherapy is administered. Hormone-blocking therapy is also used to prevent recurrence. This therapy is also administered in patients who cannot undergo surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.
At times, targeted drugs are also used to destroy the breast cancer cells. The patient should discuss all treatment options and risks with the doctor before going ahead with the treatment.