Breast Cancer

Breast cancers can start from different parts of the breast. Most breast cancers begin in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple (ductal cancers). Some start in the glands that make breast milk (lobular cancers). There are also other types of breast cancer that are less common.

Breast cancer often has no symptoms. If you notice A painless lump in the breast, Changes in breast size or shape, Swelling in the armpit, Nipple changes or discharge you needs to be checked by a health care provider to determine whether it is benign or cancer, and whether it might impact your future cancer risk. 

Now Survival rates of Breast cancer are climbing, thanks to greater awareness, more early detection, and advances in treatment☺. The earlier you find the disease, the easier it is to treat. Mammograms, an X-ray of the breast, can show tumors before they get large enough to feel.

A breast ultrasound can help find cysts, fluid-filled sacs that aren’t cancer. You might get an MRI along with a mammogram as part of your routine testing if you have a higher risk of breast cancer.

80% of breast lumps aren’t cancerous. If it is cancer, the earlier it’s found, the better. 

Breast Biopsy
The only sure way to know a lump is cancer is to do a biopsy. This means removing a sample of the lump so it can be examined in the lab.

Hormone-Sensitive Breast Cancer
Some types of breast cancer are fueled by the hormones estrogen or progesterone. These called receptors, they’re proteins that pick up signals from the hormone that tell cells to grow. A biopsy can show if a tumor has receptors for estrogen (it’s ER-positive) and progesterone (it’s PR-positive). About 2/3 of breast cancers are hormone sensitive. There are several medications that keep the hormones from causing further cancer growth.

HER2-Positive Breast Cancer
In about 20% of patients, breast cancer cells have too much of a protein called HER2/neu. This type is known as HER2-positive, and it tends to spread faster than other forms  It’s important to know whether a tumor is HER2-positive, because there are special treatments for this type of cancer.

Breast Cancer Stages
If breast cancer is the diagnosis, the next step is to figure out how big the tumor is and how much of body it affects. This process is called staging. Doctors use stages 0-4 to describe whether cancer is only in the breast, or if it has moved into nearby lymph nodes or spread to other organs, like the lungs. Knowing the stage and type of breast cancer will help your health care team create a treatment plan.

Treatments ☺
Lumpectomy or breast-conserving surgery
There are many types of breast cancer surgery, from taking out the area around the lump (lumpectomy or breast-conserving surgery) to removing the entire breast (mastectomy.) Talk with your doctor to decide what’s right for you.

Radiation Therapy
This treatment kills cancer cells with high energy rays. It may be used after breast cancer surgery to wipe out any cancer cells that remain near the tumor site. It might be paired with chemotherapy to treat cancer that has spread to other body parts.

This treatment uses drugs to kill cancer cells anywhere in the body. They’re often given by IV, but they can be taken by mouth or a shot. You might have it before surgery to shrink a large tumor or after to lower the odds of your cancer coming back.

Hormone Therapy
This is for women with ER-positive or PR-positive breast cancer. These cancers grow faster in response to the hormones estrogen or progesterone. Hormone therapy can block this effect. It might be used after surgery to help keep the cancer from coming back. 

These newer drugs pinpoint specific things inside cancer cells. For example, women with HER2-positive breast cancer have too much of a protein called HER2. Targeted therapies can stop this protein from making cancer cells grow. These drugs are often used along with chemo because they tend to have milder side effects.

Breast Reconstruction
Many women who have a breast removed choose to get reconstructive surgery. This replaces the skin, nipple, and breast tissue that are lost during a mastectomy. It can be done with a breast implant or with tissue from somewhere else in your body, like your tummy. Some women start the process right after their mastectomy. But you can also get it months or years later. Until doing a reconstruction you can be fitted for a breast form, a breast shaped prosthesis that fits inside your bra. Wearing one allows you to have a balanced look when you’re dressed.

Reducing Your Risks for Breast Cancer
  • Breast feed for the normal length of time (6 months exclusively and up to 2 years or beyond partially) Maintaining a low BMI
  • Cut back on the amount of alcohol
  • Birth control pills and some forms of hormone therapy after menopause may boost the risk. 


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