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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Breast cancer treatment

The mainstay of breast cancer treatment is surgery when the tumor is localized, followed by chemotherapy (when indicated), radiotherapy and adjuvant hormonal therapy for ER positive tumours (with tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor). Management of breast cancer is undertaken by a multidisciplinary team based on national and international guidelines. Depending on clinical criteria (age, type of cancer, size, metastasis) patients are roughly divided to high risk and low risk cases, with each risk category following different rules for therapy. Treatment possibilities include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and immune therapy.

Excised breast tissue showing a stellate, pale area of cancer measuring 2 cm across. The tumor could be felt as a hard, mobile lump before the surgical excision.

Depending on the staging and type of the tumor, just a lumpectomy (removal of the lump only) may be all that is necessary, or removal of larger amounts of breast tissue may be necessary. Surgical removal of the entire breast is called mastectomy.

Lumpectomy techniques are increasingly utilized for breast-conservation cancer surgery. Studies indicate that for patients with a single tumor smaller than 4cm, lumpectomy may be as effective as a mastectomy. Prior to a lumpectomy, a needle-localization of the lesion with placement of a guidewire may be performed, sometimes by a radiologist if the area being removed was detected by mammography or ultrasound, and sometimes by the surgeon if the lesion can be directly palpated.

Live tissue samples for testing

Recently[citation needed] live tissue samples from surgery are tested with various chemotherapy agents to derive probabilities of which ones may work better and specially the ones which would not work (Cell-death assays). The companies need the sample within 24 hours of surgical excision. This is specially useful for early stage cancers were a response for the therapy cannot be determined once the whole cancer is taken out during the surgery and the chemotherapy is given in an adjuciant setting. However, the benefits of such tests have not yet been established in clinical trials and is not mainstream.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is an adjuvant treatment for most women who have undergone lumpectomy and for some women who have mastectomy surgery. In these cases the purpose of radiation is to reduce the chance that the cancer will recur. Radiation therapy involves using high-energy X-rays or gamma rays that target a tumor or post surgery tumor site. This radiation is very effective in killing cancer cells that may remain after surgery or recur where the tumor was removed.

Radiation therapy can be delivered by either external beam radiotherapy or brachytherapy (internal radiotherapy). In the case of external beam radiotherapy, X-rays are delivered from outside the body by a machine called a Linear Accelerator or Linac. In contrast, brachytherapy involves the precise placement of radiation source(s) directly at the treatment site. Radiation therapy for breast cancer is usually performed after surgery and is an integral component of breast-conserving therapy.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

All u need to know about breast cancer

Here is what i came acroos on the net, found it informative n sharing with u, hoping its not a repost:

The truth behind some of the most common misconceptions about breast cancer.

Images from this article Public awareness about breast cancer has increased dramatically over the past 20 years. Yet misleading ideas still persist. Here, we explain the truth behind common misconceptions.

Myth: The "one in eight chance of breast cancer" statistic means that if eight women are randomly selected, one of them must have or will get breast cancer.

Fact: In reality, the statistic -- which comes from the National Cancer Institute -- is an estimate of a woman's chance of developing breast cancer during her entire lifetime. So if a woman lives to be 85, she has a one in eight (12.5%) chance of getting breast cancer. But for younger women the odds are much better. For example, a 50-year-old woman has a 1 out of 54 chance. At age 40, a woman's odds of getting breast cancer are 1 in 235. Of course, these probabilities are based on population averages, so an individual woman's risk may be higher or lower, depending upon various factors, including family history, reproductive history and other factors that are not yet fully understood.

Myth: Only women can get breast cancer.

Fact: Men have breast tissue, so it is possible for them to develop breast cancer. Like all cells of the body, a man's breast duct cells can undergo cancerous changes. Because women have many more breast cells than men do, and perhaps because their breast cells are constantly exposed to the growth-promoting effects of female hormones, breast cancer is much more common in women. This year about 1500 men are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.

Myth: Using deodorant or antiperspirant causes breast cancer.

Fact: This urban legend has suggested that chemicals in antiperspirants are absorbed through the skin, interfere with lymph circulation and cause toxins to accumulate in the breast that eventually lead to breast cancer. There is absolutely no experimental or epidemiological evidence to support this. Chemicals in products such as antiperspirants are tested thoroughly to ensure their safety.

Myth: Mammograms are painful and unsafe.

Fact: Mammograms can be uncomfortable, but the compression of the breast during mammography takes only a few minutes. To lessen discomfort, schedule your mammogram when your breasts are least sensitive (not right before your period). Mammograms result in only minimal exposure to radiation, so they are safe.

Myth: Any mass that shows up on a mammogram is most likely cancerous.

Fact: Most abnormalities will turn out not to be cancer. A mass could be a cyst or another benign breast condition. Your physician can perform an ultrasound or biopsy to investigate further.

Myth: Breast-feeding increases your risk for breast cancer.

Truth: A woman who breast-feeds can get breast cancer, but no studies indicate that breast-feeding causes breast cancer. In fact, some studies indicate that breast-feeding can reduce a woman's risk of developing the disease.

Myth: If breast cancer doesn't run in your family, you won't get it.

Fact: About 80% of women who get breast cancer have no known family history of the disease. Increasing age is the biggest single risk factor for breast cancer. If you have a family history of breast cancer, your risk may be elevated a little, a lot, or not at all. If you are concerned, discuss your family history with your physician or a genetic counselor.

Myth: Birth-control pills cause breast cancer.

Fact: Today's birth-control pills contain a low dose of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. They have not been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer and, in fact, can provide some protection against ovarian cancer. The higher-dose contraceptive pills used in the past were associated with a small increased risk in only a few studies.

Myth: A monthly breast self-exam is the best way to find breast tumors.

Fact: High-quality mammography is the most reliable way to find breast cancer as early as possible -- when it is most curable. By the time a tumor can be felt, it is usually bigger than the average size of one first detected by mammogram. However, breast examination by you and your health care provider is still very important. About 25% of breast cancers are found only on breast examination (not on the mammogram), about 35% are found using mammography alone and 40% are found by both physical exam and mammography. So it's important that you take a three-step approach: yearly mammograms (for women 40 and older), yearly clinical breast exams, and monthly self-exams.
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