Retinoblastoma

Retinoblastoma is a type of eye cancer, which primarily begins in the retina of the eye. The retina is the innermost, sensitive layer of tissue inside the eye. The retina comprises of nerve tissue which senses the light when it reaches the eye. The retina then sends signals to the brain via the optic nerve. The brain, in turn, understands the signals and interprets the images.

Retinoblastoma typically impacts children; however, it can also impact adults. It is a very uncommon form of cancer. But in children, it is the most common form of cancer. Cancer can occur in both or one eye.

Symptoms of retinoblastoma

As retinoblastoma generally impacts children and infants, the symptoms are often hard to understand. However, some possible signs will include:

  • Red eyes
  • Swelling in the eyes
  • An issue where the eyes appear to be focussed in different directions
  • A white dot in the centre of the eye (pupil), which is clear when the light is reflected upon it

However, if a parent notices any abnormal changes in the eyes of the child, immediate medical attention should be sought. Moreover, since retinoblastoma is a very rare form of cancer, the healthcare provider may examine other causes for the issue.

Causes of retinoblastoma

This form of cancer develops when the nerve cells in the retina form abnormal genetic mutations. These mutations lead to a condition where the cells continue to grow and multiply when ideally, they should die. This abnormal number of cells form a mass, known as a tumour.

Retinoblastoma can also spread to other parts of the eyes or the nearby structures. It can also impact other areas of the body, such as the brain and spine. In most cases, the actual cause of mutations is not clear. However, children can inherit an abnormal genetic mutation from their parents.

In the case of inherited gene mutation, it is possible to pass it on to children, even if one parent has the issue. Each parent carries a 50 per cent chance to increase the risk of genetic mutation in the child. Children that have this inherited condition, tend to develop this condition at an early age. Moreover, hereditary retinoblastoma impacts both the eyes, rather than just one.

Complications of retinoblastoma

Children with an inherited form of retinoblastoma, are more prone to develop other types of cancer in other body parts. This can happen even after the retinoblastoma is treated. This could be prevented by regular medical examinations to diagnose any other types of cancer or issue.

Prevention of retinoblastoma

Since the actual cause of retinoblastoma is not known, there is no definitive way to prevent this issue. However, some measures can help prevent retinoblastoma.

For families that have a risk of retinoblastoma, prevention may not be possible. But genetic testing can provide an advantage to families to know which child is at a higher risk of developing the issue. The parents can then resort to regular eye exams to help diagnose the condition early. This can help to treat the issue and minimise complications.

Diagnosis of retinoblastoma

The doctor will conduct a few exams to diagnose retinoblastoma. These tests include:

  • Eye exam: The doctor will conduct an exhaustive eye exam to understand the symptoms and underlying causes. For a clearer picture, the child could be placed under the influence of mild anaesthetics to keep the child still.

Imaging tests: Imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT scans or MRI can be used by doctors to understand the retinoblastoma has grown to impact other structuresnearby the eyes.In some cases, the doctor may also refer the patient to other specialists, such as an oncologist, or a genetic counsellor for diagnosis or confirmation of condition.

Treatment of retinoblastoma

The treatment for retinoblastoma depends on the general health of the patient, the cause of retinoblastoma, the size and location of the tumour, and if cancer has spread to other structures. The main objective of the treatment is to cure cancer. However, the procedure could impact the vision.

Some treatments for retinoblastoma include:

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy through blood vessels or pill can be used to kill the cancer cells. The drug used in chemotherapy travels through the body to attack the cancer cells. Specifically, for children, chemotherapy may be used to shrink the size of the tumour. Once, the tumour has shrunk, another form of treatment such as radiation therapy, cryotherapy, laser therapy, etc. can be used to eliminate other cancer cells. Chemotherapy is very useful in cases, where cancer has spread to nearby structures.

Radiation therapy: In radiation therapy, X-rays, protons, and other high-energy beams can be used to destroy cancer. Radiation therapy is of two kinds:

  • Internal radiation is also known as brachytherapy where the device is placed near or in the tumour. This minimises damage to nearby tissues.
  • External beam radiation directs high-powered beams to the tumour from an external device. This can have side effects since the radiation can also impact nearby tissues.

Laser therapy: In this form of treatment, a laser is used to damage blood vessels, which provide the primary supply of oxygen and nutrients to the tumour.

Cryotherapy: This form of treatment uses an extremely cold temperature to kill cancer cells.

Surgery: When all other non-invasive or minimally invasive formsof treatment fail to provide any relief or if the tumour is too large, the doctor may recommend surgery to cure cancer. This could involve removing the affected eye, an eye implant, or placing an artificial eye.

Overall, retinoblastoma is rare but cannot be prevented. However, it is possible to reduce complications and improve the quality of life through regular eye exams.

Types of cancer, syndrome & stages wise treatment

Cancer is one of the most common health problems today, which has claimed millions of lives across the world. Cancer is formed when there is a change in the DNA mutations of cells, causing abnormal growth and multiplication of cells in the body. These cells can form in any part of the body such as lungs, brain, breast, uterus, pancreas, etc. Cancer cells originate in one part of the body but can spread to other body parts. Although some tumours are benign and non-cancerous, while others are malignant and can be fatal.

Causes of Cancer

The exact cause of cancer cannot be identified and also varied per the location of the tumour. However, some reasons that increase the risk of a person developing cancer are:

  • Genetics
  • Increasing age
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Tobacco
  • Exposure to certain chemicals
  • Sunlight
  • Pathogens
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Unhealthy diet

Types of Cancer

The type of cancer depends on the part of the body it originates in. Essentially, cancer can develop in any part of the body and is named after the organ or tissue in which it first develops. There are more than 100 types of cancer, some of the most common ones include:

  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Colon and rectal cancer
  • Leukaemia or blood cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Oral cancer
  • Gastrointestinal cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Skin cancer
  • Endometrial
  • Melanoma

Cancer Syndromes

The symptoms of cancer depend on the type of cancer and hence, vary per case. That said, some of the common syndromes of cancer include:

  • Fatigue
  • Lump
  • Weight changes
  • Thickening under the skin
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Problems after food
  • Indigestion
  • Unexplained muscle pain
  • Redness or skin rash
  • Bowel changes
  • Consistent cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hoarseness
  • Pale skin
  • Changes to existing moles
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Unexplained bruising
  • Persistent night sweats
  • Fever

Symptoms of cancer also depend on the intensity and progression of cancer in the body.

Stages of Cancer and Stage-wise Treatment

Knowing the stage of cancer is critical for the surgeon to decide the course and intensity of the treatment. The stages of cancer are defined by the TNM system which implies:

  • T (tumour) – the size of the tumour
  • N (node) – the presence of tumour in lymph nodes
  • M (metastasis) – the spread of cancer to other body parts

Based on this analysis obtained through several diagnostic tests, there are typically four stages of any type of cancer. These include:

Stage 0: Often referred to as ‘carcinoma-in-situ’ – stage 0 cancer implies that the cancer cells are in the place of their origin and have not spread to any other part of the body. This stage is also sometimes referred to as the pre-cancerous stage, which contains cells that could become cancerous in the near future. This type of cancer is more localised and contained, and has higher chances of being treated successfully. The best course of treatment opted for this stage of cancer is surgery or radiation therapy. The type of surgery will depend on the type of cancer, position of the cancer cells, and the intensity of cancer growth. 

Stage 1: Often referred to as early-stage cancer, this cancer is more localised and very small in size. This stage of cancer implies that the tumour is in the body part where it originated and has only spread to the surrounding/close lymph nodes, but has not extended beyond that area to other body parts. In general, early-stage cancers can be easily treated through surgery chemotherapy, radiation and targeted drug treatment.

Stage 2: This stage of cancer is characterised by a regional spread of the cancerous cells. In this stage, cancer has penetrated the surrounding tissues and also affected other nearby lymph nodes but has not spread to distant lymph nodes or other body parts.This is also a form of localised cancer though this is a slightly advanced stage.This stage of cancer is treated with local therapies such as surgery or radiation therapy. 

Stage 3: Similar to the Stage 2 cancer but slightly more advanced where cancer has penetrated the walls of the surrounding tissue and also impacted other close lymph nodes, though it has not affected any other distant part of the body.This is often referred to as locally advanced cancer. In some cases of Stage 3 cancer, the tumour may have grown to a significant size and contain multiple tumours.These types of cancers are metastatic cancers – implying they spread beyond their area of origin. This stage of cancer is treated by surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or targeted drug treatment. A combination of these methods can also be used to improve effectiveness.

Stage 4: This is the most severe stage of cancer where the tumour has gained a reasonable size and has spread to areas beyond its origin into other distant organs and lymph nodes.This is a metastatic and an advanced stage of cancer in which cancer has metastasised to other parts of the body to form secondary cancers (metastases). This stage of cancer is very difficult to treat, though common treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. In a general sense, these cancers are unlikely to be cured in the long-term although treatment could help shrink the size of the tumour, control the spread of the tumour and relieve symptoms. 

Today, cancer is one of the top two leading causes of death worldwide majorly because of lack of awareness of its causes, symptoms and treatment. Hence, awareness about cancer needs to spread so that one knows when to seek medical help.

Cancer: Overview, causes, treatments, and types

Cancer is one of the most dreaded amidst vastly varied diseases. It is a form of a disease that is caused due to cellular changes that lead to abnormal growth and division of cells. Some cancers can lead to an increase in the growth of cells, whereas other types of cancer can slow down cell growth. All cells of the body have a definite life span with specific functions, unlike cancer cells that lack components that provide instructions to stop diving or die. Hence, these cells build up numerously and consume the share of oxygen and nutrients of the body which would otherwise nourish other healthy cells. Cancer cells infiltrate and destroy the normal body tissue, and can cause tumour growth, weaken or impair the immune system, or cause certain changes that lead to abnormal body functions.

Symptoms of cancer depend on the type of cancer and also from person-to-person. That said, some of the general symptoms of cancer include fatigue, lump, weight changes, thickening under the skin, pale skin, redness or skin rash, bowel changes, consistent cough, shortness of breath, hoarseness, difficulty in swallowing, difficulty after food, indigestion, unexplained muscle pain, changes to existing moles, unexplained bleeding, bruising, and persistent night sweats or fever. Symptoms of cancer also depend on the intensity and progression of cancer in the body.

Today, cancer is one of the top two leading causes of death worldwide majorly because of a lack of awareness of its causes, diagnosis, and treatment. Hence, awareness about cancer needs to spread so that one knows when to seek medical help.

Types of cancer

As of today, there are more than 100 types of cancer that exist. Some of these include:

  • Lung cancer
  • Skin cancer
  • Blood cancer
  • Neck cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Thyroid
  • Endometrial

Causes of cancer

Cancer is caused when there are changes or mutations in the DNA within cells. The DNA further contains a large number of individual genes that store instructions for the cells to perform, grow and divide. When these instructions are disrupted, it causes the cell to stop its normal functioning and the cells may become cancerous. Most common gene mutations cause cells to rapidly grow and increase uncontrollably. Gene mutations could be inherited from parents or can occur due to multiple other reasons.

While all causes that lead to gene dysfunction cannot be defined but some of the most common causes of cancer are:

  • Smoking
  • Radiation
  • Viruses
  • Carcinogens
  • Hormones
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Poor nutrition

While gene mutations occur normally in cells, but cells recognize the mistake and correct it instantly, but in cases where the mistake is missed, the cells could become cancerous.

These are a few preventable causes of cancer, while many cancer causes are not preventable and increase the risk for cancer; these causes include age, genetic disorders, family history, health conditions, surrounding environment, etc. 

Treatment for cancer

Each cancer is different and hence, treatment depends on the type of cancer, the stage of cancer, the age of the patient, as well as the person’s overall health and medical history. However, a few approaches to the treatment of cancer include:

  • Chemotherapy: This method of treatment of cancer aims at rapidly growing cells and kills them with medications. These medications also help shrink the tumour, though the side effects are intense.
  • Immunotherapy: Cancer cells are very adaptive to their surrounding environment and hence, make it very difficult to detect cancer. Immunotherapy is a technique that trains and strengthens the body’s immune system to find and attack the cancer cells similar to the way it fights with bacteria. A few types of immunotherapy include monoclonal antibodies, checkpoint inhibitors, vaccines, cytokines, and CAR T-cell therapy. 
  • Precision Medicine: precision or personalized medicine aims at individualizing targeted treatment at the right stage of cancer treatment in the patient. Precision medicine involves setting the course of treatment depending on the patient’s medical history, test results, genes, lifestyle, diet, and the surrounding environment. Precision medicine is dependent on the gene changes or mutations that are unique to each cancer and hence, set the foundation for the type of course needed.
  • Radiation Therapy: This is a form of therapy that uses radioactive liquids called radioisotopes to destroy cancer cells in the body. This liquid can be inserted into the veins via an injection or can be taken in the form of a capsule or drink. Cancer cells tend to consume more radioactive elements than normal cells, which helps to eventually destroy them by killing their DNA.
  • Surgery: Cancer can also be removed through surgery in cases where there is a cancerous tumour; moreover, the doctors might remove all lymph nodes to stop the growth and spreading of cancer.
  • Targeted Therapies: Therapies such as small-molecule drugs modify the functions in the cancerous cells to prevent them from multiplying. These therapies also aim to boost the immune system to fight cancerous cells more effectively.

Treatments for cancer are constantly innovating and improving to minimize the spread of this dreadful disease. The need today is to be aware of the causes, symptoms, types, and treatments for cancer so that the right medical help at the right time is obtained. 

Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma

Infiltrating ductal carcinoma (IDC) or also known as invasive ductal carcinoma is the most common form of breast cancer that begins in the milk ducts (tubes that carry milk from the glands to the nipples), grows through the duct wall and then spreads to the other nearby fibrous or fatty tissues of the breasts. Once cancer spreads to the surrounding breast tissue, it can very easily evade other organs and tissues of the body. Over time, this form of breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes and other areas. Infiltrating ductal carcinoma accounts for 80% of the women diagnosed with breast cancer. 

While infiltrating ductal carcinoma can affect women of all ages; however, it is more likely to affect women of older age, such as 55 or above. That said, infiltrating ductal carcinoma can also impact men. 

Causes of Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma

The exact cause of infiltrating ductal carcinoma is not identified; however, a few factors such as genes mutations, hormonal, lifestyle and environment can increase the chances of a person being diagnosed with this form of breast cancer. That said, these below factors also increase the likelihood of a person being affected with infiltrating ductal carcinoma:

  • Being female – since women are more likely to have breast cancer than men.
  • Increasing age
  • Abnormal breast conditions
  • Past record of breast cancer
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Inherited gene mutations
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol
  • Early age period (before 12 years of age)
  • Older age menopause
  • Conceiving first child at an older age
  • Never being pregnant
  • Postmenopausal hormone therapy

Symptoms of Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma

Like other breast cancers, infiltrating ductal carcinoma might not produce any symptoms during early stages unless detected via a mammogram, which might reveal a suspicious mass. However, a woman might discover a lump or abnormal mass upon self-examination of the breasts and get a diagnosis to confirm cancer. The most common symptom that can help with diagnosis is the formation of a lump, though not all breast lumps are cancerous, and hence, a medical diagnosis will be required to confirm the analysis. 

That said, some other symptoms that might help to diagnose infiltrating ductal carcinoma are:

  • An abnormal and sudden appearance of a lump
  • Sudden thickening in the breast tissue/skin
  • Pain in the breast
  • Redness, pitting and rashes on the skin of the breasts – like an orange
  • Swollen breasts; especially one breast
  • Sudden, new pain in one location of the breast
  • Discharge from nipple (apart from breast milk)
  • Blood discharge from the nipple
  • Peeling, scaling or flaking of the breast skin or tissue
  • Inverted nipple
  • Pain in the nipple
  • Dimpling around the nipple
  • Difference in the appearance of breasts and its skin
  • Change in breast shape and size
  • Tenderness in the breast
  • A lump or swelling under the arm

Just mere presence of these symptoms does not confirm infiltrating breast carcinoma because these symptoms can also occur because of other reasons such as cysts. Hence, a medical diagnosis is required to confirm the analysis and get targeted treatment.

Diagnosis of Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma

It is hard to detect infiltrating ductal carcinoma generally unless examined via a mammogram – the X-Ray of the breasts. To check for cancer, the cells will be collected and assessed through a biopsy, where the doctor will confirm or deny breast cancer. Once, the biopsy confirms the presence of infiltrating ductal carcinoma – a few other tests will be conducted to assess the size, shape and aggressiveness of the tumour. These tests include:

  • CT scan
  • PET scan
  • MRI
  • Bone scan
  • Chest X-ray

Stages of Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma

The diagnostic tests of infiltrating ductal carcinoma are also essential to assess the stage of cancer in terms of size and aggressiveness (the speed of spreading). The tests also determine how far cancer has spread and how much it has affected other body organs and tissues. 

Treatment for Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma

 Treatment for infiltrating ductal carcinoma is dependent on the stage of cancer, i.e. the current size and rate of growth of cancer. Some of the common treatment options include:

Surgery: This is the most commonly opted method to treat infiltrating ductal carcinoma. Different types of surgeries include:

  • Lumpectomy in which the tumour and the surrounding tissue is removed, leaving the rest of the breast intact.
    • Mastectomy in which the entire breast or breasts are removed
    • Sentinel node biopsy in which the lymph nodes that receive the drainage from the tumour are removed. These lymph nodes are assessed for cancer.
    • Axillary lymph node dissection: If the lymph nodes removed during a sentinel node biopsy are detected with cancer cells, additional lymph nodes may be removed.
    • Contralateral prophylactic mastectomy: This is an optional surgery where the patient can opt to remove both breasts even when the cancer is present in only one breast; this helps to reduce the risk of developing infiltrating ductal carcinoma again.

Radiation: In radiation therapy, powerful beams are used to target and destroy cancer cells. In the form of radiation therapy, cancer cells are destroyed from inside the body by placing radioactive seeds or pellets inside the patient’s body, near the site of the tumour. These seeds remain in the body for a short period of time and effectively destroy cancer cells. This type of treatment is also known as brachytherapy. 

Chemotherapy: This form of treatment is done in combination with some other treatment method to enhance its impact in destroying cancer cells. Chemotherapy is widely used in combination with surgery, where the patient might be asked to undergo chemotherapy to shrink the size of the tumour so that the surgery is less invasive.

Hormone Therapy: This type of treatment is used to correct hormones that promote tumour. For cases, where infiltrating ductal carcinoma cancer is sensitive to specific hormones – such as estrogen and progesterone – the production of the particular hormones in the body is slowed or restricted through prescribed medicines. This helps in taming the invasiveness of breast cancer.

Medications: The doctor will suggest targeted medicines to control the growth of infiltrating ductal carcinoma and target abnormalities and mutations in the cancer cells. 

Though highly common, infiltrating ductal carcinoma can be treated provided it is diagnosed early, and targeted course of treatment is initiated timely.

Breast Cancer – Symptoms & Treatment

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the cells of the breasts. Primarily, cancer develops in a small, confined section such as the lobules (glands that produce milk) or the ducts (pathways that carry the milk from the glands to the nipples) of the breast. Cancer can also develop in the fatty tissue or the fibrous connective tissue of the breasts. However, with time it can grow more prominent in the breast and even spread to surrounding lymph nodes through channels or affect other organs by travelling through the bloodstream. The growth and speed of spreading of cancer varies per case – where some cancer forms can take years to spread beyond the breast; other cancer forms can spread more quickly and aggressively.

Breast cancer can occur in both men and women; however, it is most commonly found in women. It is the second most common cancer diagnosed in women after skin cancer and also the second most common cause of death in women after lung cancer. Fortunately, with the advancement in medical science and the upgrading of treatment technology and approach – breast cancer has become highly curable. Moreover, with the increasing awareness about breast cancer, early detection has become easy, which contributes towards saving lives from breast cancer. 

Types of Breast Cancer

There are several types of breast cancer which have been categorized based on their aggressiveness. Invasive breast cancer has spread to the other parts of the body, while non-invasive cancer is restricted in the breast. 

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): This is a non-invasive cancer form that is confined to the ducts in the breasts.
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS): This is another form of non-invasive cancer that occurs in the mil-producing glands of the breasts.
  • Invasive ductal carcinoma: This is one of the most common forms of breast cancer that begins in the milk ducts but spreads to other nearby tissue. Once cancer spreads to the surrounding breast tissue, it can easily evade other organs and tissue.
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma: This form of cancer develops in the lobules and spreads to the nearby tissue.
  • Paget disease of the nipple: This form of cancer develops in the ducts of the nipple but later starts affecting the skin and areola of the nipple.
  • Phyllodes Tumour: A rare form of breast cancer that develops in the connecting tissue of the breast.
  • Angiosarcoma: This form of cancer grows on the breast’s blood or lymph vessels.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer: A rare but very aggressive form of cancer in which the cells block the lymph nodes which restricts the lymph vessels from draining, causing the breasts to become swollen, appear red and feel extremely warm. Triple-negative breast cancer: This is another but extremely aggressive form of breast cancer that is categorized by lack of estrogen receptors, lack of progesterone receptors and no additional HER2 proteins on the surface of the breast.
  • Male breast cancer: Though rare but men can be affected with breast cancer too.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

An early stage of breast cancer might not show any symptoms unless detected via a mammogram. In some cases, the tumour may be too small to be noticed; hence, early-stage breast cancer can be diagnosed with a mammogram. That said, one of the most common signs of breast cancer is the formation of a lump in the breast, but not lumps are cancerous, a medical diagnosis will be required to confirm breast cancer. 

In general, different types of breast cancer can depict different symptoms; some of the common symptoms across breast cancer types include:

  • An abnormal and sudden appearance of a lump or thickening in the breast tissue
  • Pain in the breast
  • Redness, pitting and rashes on the skin of the breasts – like an orange
  • Swollen breasts
  • Discharge from nipple (apart from breast milk)
  • Blood discharge from the nipple
  • Peeling, scaling or flaking of the breast skin or tissue
  • Inverted nipple
  • Difference in the appearance of breasts and its skin
  • Change in breast shape and size
  • Tenderness in the breast
  • A lump or swelling under the arm

These symptoms do not confirm breast cancer since they can also be caused due to other reasons such as cysts. A medical examination is required to confirm symptoms for breast cancer and initiate targeted treatment.

Causes of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer develops when the cells in the breasts begin to grow and divide abnormally as compared to healthy cells. This causes the cells to accumulate and form lumps or massesBreast cancer usually occurs in the milk-producing ducts or the glandular tissue, known as lobules – and spread further through the breast to the lymph nodes or to the other parts of the body.

The exact reason for breast cancer cannot be identified; however, some common factors that are known to increase the likelihood of breast cancer include hormonal, lifestyle and environmental factors. In some cases, breast cancer can also be due to gene mutations passed onto generations of a family. 

That said, some other factors that increase the risk of certain people to develop breast cancer are:

  • Being female – since women are more likely to have breast cancer than men.
  • Increasing age
  • Abnormal breast conditions
  • Past record of breast cancer
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Inherited gene mutations
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol
  • Early age period (before 12 years of age)
  • Older age menopause
  • Conceiving first child at an older age
  • Never being pregnant
  • Postmenopausal hormone therapy

Treatment of Breast Cancer

Treatment for breast cancer is highly dependent on the stage of cancer, the type of cancer, the growth of cancer, etc. The size of cancer, its stage, as well as the tendency to grow and spread plays a critical role in deciding the course of treatment. Some of the common treatment options for breast cancer include:

  • Surgery: The most common form of treatment to remove breast cancer. Different types of surgeries include:
    • Lumpectomy in which the tumour and the surrounding tissue is removed, leaving the rest of the breast intact.
    • Mastectomy in which the entire breast or breasts are removed
    • Sentinel node biopsy in which the lymph nodes that receive the drainage from the tumour are removed. These lymph nodes will be assessed for cancer.
    • Axillary lymph node dissection: If the lymph nodes removed during a sentinel node biopsy are detected with cancer cells, additional lymph nodes may be removed.
    • Contralateral prophylactic mastectomy: This is an optional surgery where the patient can opt to remove both breasts even when the cancer is present in only one breast; this helps to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer again.
  • Radiation Therapy: This type of treatment uses powerful beams of radiation to target and destroy cancer cells. Most radiation therapies use external beams. In cases of advanced treatment, cancer cells can be destroyed by destroying cancer from inside the body by placing radioactive seeds or pellets inside the body of the patient, near the site of the tumour. These seeds or pellets stay in the body for a short period to destroy cancer cells. This treatment is also called brachytherapy.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a type of treatment that aims to destroy cancer cells. This treatment is usually done in combination with some other form of treatment; especially in cases where surgery is opted for – the doctors might recommend chemotherapy initially to help shrink the size of the tumour and make the surgery less invasive.
  • Hormone Therapy: If the type of breast cancer is sensitive to hormones, hormone therapy will be the recommended course of treatment. In this form, the doctor will prescribe medicines to stop the natural production of two hormones – estrogen and progesterone – in the body; these hormones are responsible for stimulating the growth of breast cancer tumours. This can help stop or slow the spreading of breast cancer.
  • Medications: The doctor will recommend certain medications that will target the abnormalities and mutations in the cancer cells. The type of medications will depend on the form of cancer, the stage or size of cancer. 

Although common, breast cancer can be easily prevented provided appropriate lifestyle and diet measures are taken. Also, early diagnosis of breast cancer helps to substantially reduce the impact of cancer.

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