Removal Of The Breast Without Cancer
Certain women with breast cancer have a high risk of developing breast cancer in their other breast . Doctors may suggest that these women have the other breast removed before cancer develops in it. This procedure is called contralateral prophylactic mastectomy. This preventive surgery may be appropriate for women with any of the following:
An inherited genetic mutation that increases the risk of developing breast cancer
At least two close, usually first-degree relatives who have had breast or ovarian cancer
Radiation therapy directed at the chest when women were under 30 years old
Lobular carcinoma in situ
In women with lobular carcinoma in situ in one breast, invasive cancer is equally likely to develop in either breast. Thus, the only way to eliminate the risk of breast cancer for these women is to remove both breasts. Some women, particularly those who are at high risk of developing invasive breast cancer, choose this option.
Advantages of contralateral prophylactic mastectomy include the following:
Longer survival for women with breast cancer and a genetic mutation that increases risk and possibly for women who are under 50 years old when they are diagnosed with breast cancer
For some women, decreased anxiety
Disadvantages of this procedure include the following:
Twice the risk of complications
Instead of having a contralateral prophylactic mastectomy, some women may choose to have their doctor monitor the breast closely for cancerfor example with imaging tests.
Further Tests For Breast Cancer
If a diagnosis of breast cancer is confirmed, more tests will be needed to determine the stage and grade of the cancer, and to work out the best method of treatment.
If your cancer was detected through the NHS Breast Screening Programme, you’ll have further tests in the screening centre before being referred for treatment.
Caroline Myss: The 4th Chakra Connection
A leading authority in holistic health, and author of many books about the human energy field, Dr Caroline Myss makes a correlation between the bodys energy chakras and the stresses that can disturb the flow of life energy, leading to illness.
- There are 7 chakras, starting from the base of the spine and ending at the top of the head. Each chakra supplies life energy to its surrounding organs.
- The chest/breast area is served by the 4th or heart chakra. The heart chakra is associated with love, forgiveness and compassion qualities of the heart.
- Breast cancer is caused by a disturbance in the energy flow in this chakra.
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A Family History Of Breast Cancer
Having someone in your family with breast cancer doesnt automatically mean your own risk is increased. For most people, having a relative with breast cancer does not increase their risk.
However, a small number of women and men have an increased risk of developing breast cancer because they have a significant family history.
Money And Financial Support
If you have to reduce or stop work because of your cancer, you may find it difficult to cope financially.
If you have cancer or you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to financial support, for example:
- if you have a job but can’t work because of your illness, you’re entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from your employer
- if you don’t have a job and can’t work because of your illness, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance
- if you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to Carers Allowance
- you may be eligible for other benefits if you have children living at home, or if you have a low household income
Find out what help is available to you as soon as possible. The social worker at your hospital will be able to give you the information you need.
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Where The Fda Stands
Breast-implant-associated cancers are rare. The FDA is continuing to collect and evaluate information about BIA-ALCL and other cancers in individuals with breast implants and who have used tissue expanders. As the FDA gathers more information, it may ask manufacturers to recall other breast implants or tissue expanders.
What Is Considered High Risk For Breast Cancer
According to the CDC, you are considered high risk for breast cancer if you have:
- Strong family history of breast cancer
- Inherited changes in your BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes
These two risk factors also put you at a high risk for ovarian cancer. Speak with your doctor about what you can do to reduce your risks. Options include drugs that block or decrease estrogen in your body and preventive surgery.
Expert cancer care
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Stages Of Breast Cancer
If youre diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor will immediately try to figure out if it has spread, and if so, how far, according to the American Cancer Society. This process is called staging, and it helps determine how serious the cancer is and how to treat it. We stage it based on the size of the tumor in the breast and whether or not the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or another organ in the body, says Dr. Specht. The stage of breast cancer dictates how we treat it even more than which type it is.
The earliest stage of breast cancer is stage 0 from there, it ranges from stage I through IV. As a rule, the lower the number, the less the cancer has spread.
Here is more information about each stage:
Also called pre-cancer, this is the earliest stage of breast cancer. It usually begins in the breast ducts or milk glands and has stayed there, which means its not invasive . However, it could become invasive cancer in the future.
Starting at this level, breast cancer is called invasive, meaning it has started spreading to healthy breast tissue. Stage IA means the tumor measures up to 2 centimeters but has not spread outside the breast, and no lymph nodes are involved. Stage IB means either theres no tumor or the tumor is less than 2 centimeters, and small clusters of breast cancer cells are found in the lymph nodes.
At stage II, the cancer has grown, spread, or both. This stage has two subcategories: IIA and IIB.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Everyone wants to know what they can do to lower their risk of breast cancer. Some of the factors associated with breast cancer being a woman, your age, and your genetics, for example can’t be changed. Other factors being overweight, lack of exercise, smoking cigarettes, and eating unhealthy food can be changed by making choices. By choosing the healthiest lifestyle options possible, you can empower yourself and make sure your breast cancer risk is as low as possible.
The known risk factors for breast cancer are listed below. Click on each link to learn more about the risk factor and ways you can minimize it in your own life. If a factor can’t be changed , you can learn about protective steps you can take that can help keep your risk as low as possible.
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Treatment Of Cancer That Has Spread
Breast cancer that has spread beyond the lymph nodes is rarely cured, but most women who have it live at least 2 years, and a few live 10 to 20 years. Treatment extends life only slightly but may relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. However, some treatments have troublesome side effects. Thus, deciding whether to be treated and, if so, which treatment to choose can be highly personal.
Choice of therapy depends on the following:
Whether the cancer has estrogen and progesterone receptors
How long the cancer had been in remission before it spread
How many organs and how many parts of the body the cancer has spread to
Whether the woman is postmenopausal or still menstruating
If the cancer is causing symptoms , women are usually treated with chemotherapy or hormone-blocking drugs. Pain is usually treated with analgesics. Other drugs may be given to relieve other symptoms. Chemotherapy or hormone-blocking drugs are given to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
Hormone-blocking drugs are preferred to chemotherapy when the cancer has the following characteristics:
The cancer is estrogen receptorpositive.
Cancer has not recurred for more than 2 years after diagnosis and initial treatment.
Cancer is not immediately life threatening.
Different hormone-blocking drugs are used in different situations:
, such as pamidronate or zoledronate, reduce bone pain and bone loss and may prevent or delay bone problems that can result when cancer spreads to bone.
Diagnosis Of Breast Cancer
To determine if your symptoms are caused by breast cancer or a benign breast condition, your doctor will do a thorough physical exam in addition to a breast exam. They may also request one or more diagnostic tests to help understand whats causing your symptoms.
Tests that can help your doctor diagnose breast cancer include:
- Mammogram. The most common way to see below the surface of your breast is with an imaging test called a mammogram. Many women ages 40 and older get annual mammograms to check for breast cancer. If your doctor suspects you may have a tumor or suspicious spot, they will also request a mammogram. If an atypical area is seen on your mammogram, your doctor may request additional tests.
- Ultrasound. A breast ultrasound uses sound waves to create a picture of the tissues deep in your breast. An ultrasound can help your doctor distinguish between a solid mass, such as a tumor, and a benign cyst.
Your doctor may also suggest tests such as an MRI or a breast biopsy.
If you dont already have a primary care doctor, you can browse doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
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How Race And Ethnicity Affect Breast Cancer Development And Treatment
A womans race or ethnicity affects how likely she is to be diagnosed with breast cancer, the kind of breast cancer she may be more likely to develop, and the kind of care she may receive. For example:
- White women have a higher chance of developing breast cancer than Black women.
- Women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent are more likely to develop breast cancer because they may have a higher rate of the BRCA1mutation.
- Black women are more likely to develop a more aggressive form of breast cancer called triple-negative breast cancer before the age of 50.
- Black women and Hispanic women are less likely than white women to be diagnosed early and receive standard treatments.
For more information about the connection between race and ethnicity and breast cancer, visit Black with breast cancer and Sharsheret, an organization providing information and support for Jewish women facing breast and ovarian cancer.
History Of Breast Cancer Or Breast Lumps
A person who has had breast cancer is more likely to develop it again than a person with no history of the disease.
Having some types of noncancerous breast lumps increases the risk of developing the cancer later on. Examples include atypical ductal hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ.
People with a history of breast, ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer should ask their doctors about genetic testing.
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Symptoms Of Breast Cancer With Implants
If you have breast implants and are worried about developing BIA-ALCL, keep an eye out for the following symptoms, including years after getting the implant:
- Swelling that doesn’t go away
- Pain around the breast implant
- A lump or mass near the implant
- Skin changes: Redness
- Fluid collecting around the implant
If you have implants and are worried about developing breast cancer, know that it is no more common in people with implants than in those who don’t have implants. Get regular screening mammograms , and watch for these common symptoms of breast cancer:
- A lump in the breast or armpit doesn’t go away.
- Part of the breast thickens, swells, or changes shape.
- The breast skin gets irritated or dimpled.
- The skin around the nipple becomes red or flaky.
- The nipple starts pulling in or hurting.
- Bloody or other odd nipple discharge forms.
- There is breast pain.
The Mystery Of Breast Cancer
For most of the common cancers, a major cause has been identified: smoking causes 90% of lung cancer worldwide, hepatitis viruses cause most liver cancer, H pylori bacteria causes stomach cancer, Human papillomavirus causes almost all cases of cervical cancer, colon cancer is largely explained by physical activity, diet and family history.
But for breast cancer, there is no smoking gun. It is almost unique among the common cancers of the world in that there is not a known major cause there is no consensus among experts that proof of a major cause has been identified.
Yet, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women worldwide. The risk is not equally distributed around the globe, though. Women in North America and Northern Europe have long had five times the risk of women in Africa and Asia, though recently risk has been increasing fast in Africa and Asia for unknown reasons.
Was it something I ate? Supermarket aisle via www.shutterstock.com.
Is Diet To Blame?
Up until about 20 years ago, we thought it was all about diet. As people abandon their local food sources and begin to eat highly processed foods with lots of fats, the hypothesis went, breast cancer was thought to be more likely to develop.
This hypothesis was logical because when researchers analyzed countriesâ per capita fat consumption and breast cancer mortality rates, they found a strong correlation. In addition, rats fed a high-fat diet are more prone to breast tumors.
How To Prevent Breast Cancer
Unfortunately, theres no silver bullet when it comes to preventing breast cancer. And though there have been some trial vaccines, in the meantime, there are steps you can take to lower your risk. Here are some good guidelines to follow:
Maintain a healthy diet
Both increased body weight and weight gain as an adult are linked with a higher risk of breast cancer after menopause, according to the American Cancer Society. Following a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help give your body the fuel it needs to maintain a healthy weight and the nutrients it needs to stay cancer-free. Recent research suggests foods that are highly inflammatory can increase the risk of breast cancer. Talk to your doctor and work with a dietitian to follow a diet that allows you to maintain a healthy body weight for you.
Many studies have shown that moderate to vigorous physical activity is linked with lower breast cancer risk. The American Cancer Society recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity to vigorous-intensity activity each week, preferably spread throughout the week.
Limit your alcohol intake
Even low levels of alcohol intake have been linked with an increased risk of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that women have no more than one alcoholic drink a day .
Breastfeed if you can
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How Is Breast Cancer Treated
There are several breast cancer treatment options, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy and targeted drug therapy. Whats right for you depends on many factors, including the location and size of the tumor, the results of your lab tests and whether the cancer has spread to other parts of your body. Your healthcare provider will tailor your treatment plan according to your unique needs. Its not uncommon to receive a combination of different treatments, too.
Breast cancer surgery
Breast cancer surgery involves removing the cancerous portion of your breast and an area of normal tissue surrounding the tumor. There are different types of surgery depending on your situation, including:
Chemotherapy for breast cancer
Your healthcare provider may recommend chemotherapy for breast cancer before a lumpectomy in an effort to shrink the tumor. Sometimes, its given after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells and reduce the risk of recurrence . If the cancer has spread beyond your breast to other parts of your body, then your healthcare provider may recommend chemotherapy as a primary treatment.
Radiation therapy for breast cancer
Radiation therapy for breast cancer is typically given after a lumpectomy or mastectomy to kill remaining cancer cells. It can also be used to treat individual metastatic tumors that are causing pain or other problems.
Hormone therapy for breast cancer
Immunotherapy for breast cancer
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What Is Metastatic Breast Cancer
Breast cancer usually begins in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple, and can metastasize reach other parts of the body when the cancer cells get into the blood or lymph systems. Most of the time, cancer cells die at some point in the process of trying to spread. But, if conditions are favorable for the cancer cells, some of them are able to form new tumors in other parts of the body. Metastatic cancer cells can also remain inactive at a distant site for many years before they begin to grow again, if at all.
Breast Cancer Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
Most breast cancer symptoms are discovered by women during regular dailyactivities like bathing. Knowing how your breasts look and feel, andbeing alert for the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, like a lump,can help you detect the disease early, when it’s easiest to treat.
Most breast changes are due to hormonal cycles or conditions that are less worrying than breast cancer. However, if you experience any of the following breast cancer symptoms, even if they seem mild, see your doctor.
- A lump in the breast or armpit is the most common symptom of breast cancer. Patients often describe this as a ball or a nodule. Lumps may feel soft and rubbery or hard. Unless you have small breasts or the lump is very large, you probably wont be able to see it.
- Nipple changes, including the nipple turning inward, pulling to one side or changing direction
- Ulcer on the breast or nipple
- Thickening of the skin, resulting in an orange-peel texture
Though rare, men can also get breast cancer. The most common symptoms of male breast cancer are a lump, discharge or dimpling.
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