Breast Cancer Awareness: All you need to Know about the Disease
Breast Cancer diagnosis is possible only by reviewing the underlying pathology and then deciding on the best treatment option for that level of staging or progression of the disease.
It is crucial to understand the breast cancer stages and symptoms, before beginning a treatment plan. Let us start by understanding what is this breast cancer and what are its stages.
Stages of breast cancer:
The earliest stages of breast cancer or stage 0 is difficult to detect. It is a non-invasive form of breast mass which is benign and also known as “carcinoma in situ.”
In most cases, “Stage 0” is mostly detected through a random breast self-exam or from a biopsy for another reason. Which is why most experts recommend routine screening for the same. Especially, when the patient has a family history related to breast cancer.
“Stage 1” can be referred to as the earliest invasive form of breast mass or swelling. At this stage cancer cells may begin to spread to adjoining areas of the breast tissue, with no lymph node involvement. But it is still a small tumor and can be difficult to detect.
Invasive breast cancer starts to really make progress during a “Stage 2” level. Where the tumor growth is slightly more advanced stage with involvement of lymph nodes and has spread deep into the breast tissue without further spread.
A “Stage 3” breast cancer is a more advanced form of invasive breast cancer, that is made it presence felt through underarm/ axillary lymph nodes. Here the tumor growth is larger and visible under the skin. It may possibly extend to the chest wall or skin of the breast.
Metastatic breast cancer or a “Stage 4” cancer if the advanced stage it can get to. In this scenario, the tumor has spread away from the breast area towards the bones, liver, lungs or even brain. More than one part of the body may be involved at this advanced stage.
Some of the commonly noticed signs and symptoms of a metastatic breast cancer includes:
- Swelling or lumps in the lymph nodes
- Severe headaches
- Pain in other areas of the body, such as the bone
- Difficulty breathing or a persistent cough
- Loss of appetite and/or weight loss
Breast Cancer diagnosis and treatment
Let us understand some of the tests and procedures that help in the breast cancer diagnosis;
1. Breast screening examination:
Your doctor will examine the area and feel for any unusual mass or any lump and check both breasts and for swollen lymph nodes under your arm pit.
If your doctor has noticed a lump or mass, you will be recommended to undergo a diagnostic mammogram for further evaluation of the clinical finding. This is a gold standard diagnostic test done for breast cancer diagnosis.
3. Breast ultrasound:
This is another diagnostic tool helpful to provide images that help to determine whether the breast tissue is a solid mass with infiltration or a fluid filled cyst. Ultrasound uses sound waves to capture imaging of underlying tissue structures.
4. Breast tissue biopsy:
Your doctor uses a specialized needle with the help of an ultrasound imaging guided test in order to retrieve a sample of the breast lump or cyst for further evaluation. These tissue samples are then sent to a laboratory for expert analysis in determining whether the tissue cells from the biopsy is cancerous. These cancer cells have hormone receptors or other receptors that may determine your further treatment.
5. How can we prevent breast cancer?
To be honest, you cannot stop genetics. It is different for everyone. What we can do is to be aware of our family history and the steps we can take to stay safe from breast cancer.
6. Breast Cancer Treatment:
Try Femara (Letrozole) a safe, and helpful medication to treat breast cancer. It is also suitable for woman whose breast cancer is oestrogen receptor positive. Letrozole acts by reducing the amount of oestrogen produced in the body
This medication is also given to woman who have underwent a surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence or spreading.
Which is why occasionally, letrozole is used as a first line of treatment, treating breast cancer which has recurred or spread to other areas in the body also known as secondary breast cancer.
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