Early detection and prompt treatment is the mantra for a better prognosis of any type of cancer, especially breast cancer. Some signs and symptoms to watch out for include:
Since these symptoms may occur with other conditions, it is best to consult your doctor for a conclusive diagnosis. Also, not all breast lumps are malignant, and most of them are usually benign and not life-threatening.
Tests used in breast cancer diagnosis include:
After taking a thorough medical and familial history, your doctor will perform a physical breast examination to feel any lumps in the breast or around them.
This is essentially an X-ray of the breast and is routinely used as a screening test. Any abnormality detected in a mammogram is followed up with further imaging tests or a biopsy.
An ultrasound is used to determine if the lump detected in the breast is solid (suggestive of a tumour) or fluid-filled (suggestive of a cyst).
A biopsy is a conclusive test for breast cancer diagnosis and involves the collection of breast tissue samples from the suspected region. This sample is then analysed in a laboratory to determine the type of cells and aggressiveness of cancer.
A breast MRI is recommended only in women who are at a high risk of developing breast cancer or when the doctor wants to check for the size and extent of the tumour.
Many advanced breast cancer treatment options are available today. Though we often think of ‘chemotherapy and breast cancer’, many other options are available for treating it.
Breast cancer treatments can be either local or systemic, depending upon the spread of cancer. Local treatments like surgery and radiation are preferred breast cancer treatment options when the tumour is localised (confined to its region of origin).
Drugs used in breast cancer treatment are considered systemic treatment options as they target cancer cells anywhere in the body. Systemic breast cancer treatment options include chemotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy and targeted drug therapy.
Breast cancer treatment depends on multiple factors, including– the patient’s age, overall health, type and stage of cancer.