Breast cancer is cancer that develops from cell in the breast that have grown abnormally and multiplied to form a lump or tumour. Breast cancer accounts for 14% of cancers in India. The earliest stage of breast cancer is stage 0 (Non-invasive breast cancer), which is contained within the ducts or lobules of the breast and has not spread into the healthy breast tissue. Cancer that spread beyond the ducts or lobules into healthy breast tissue such as lymph nodes or distant organs is called as Invasive breast cancer (Stages I-IV). It is the most common cause of cancer-related deaths in women and occurs most frequently in postmenopausal women over the age of 50. Breast cancer is also seen in men but in very rare cases, making up around 1% of all breast cancer cases.
Breast cancer is treatable and chances of survival increases if it is detected on time. The best way of early diagnosis is knowing signs and symptoms of breast cancer.
Initial detection of breast cancer starts with a physical examination, mammography and ultrasound scan. In certain cases, breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will also be performed. If a tumour is identified, a biopsy will be taken to assess the cancer before any treatment is planned.
Breast cancer is treatable and chances of survival increases if it is detected in time. Treatment of breast cancer depends on stages (0-IV) that is how far advance the cancer is and types of cancer. Breast cancer is 'staged' according to tumour size, involvement of lymph nodes and whether it has spread outside the breast and lymph nodes to other parts of the body or not. This information is used to help decide and plan the best treatment. The presence of biomarkers such as hormone receptors and a receptor called HER2 also help to determine what type of therapy is given. Treatment of breast cancer includes Surgery, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy,chemotherapy and targeted therapy.
Life style modification plays a vital role in management of breast cancer by improving prognosis and optimizing overall health. Life style modification includes weight management, physical activity (at least 150 minutes per week), diet (fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants), avoiding alcohol and smoking, etc.
It is recommended to visit your doctor every 3-4 months for the first two years after finishing treatment, every 6-8 months from years 3-5 and once a year thereafter. You will also have a regular MRI and mammography every year.You also need to monitor side effects associated with the therapy and if found talk to your doctor about it.