Diagnosed With Breast Cancer What To Do Next
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancer types in developing countries among women. In India, Breast cancer has been claimed by one-third of the urban population of women. According to a survey, the age-adjusted rate of Breast cancer is indicated to be 25.8 on the count per 100,000 women and the mortality rate is 12.7. The number of women affected by this disease is much lower in the rural areas when compared to the cities, however, it has been posing major threats to life each day. As per the National Cancer Registry Program, even young age females are also being diagnosed with Breast cancer. The survival rate of cancer patients has been recorded quite low in India due to a lack of awareness and not the unavailability of Breast cancer treatment in India. The late diagnosis of this disease results in the death of patients, which is another reason why we are in dire need of awareness regarding such jeopardizing health conditions. As we all are totally aware of the fact that fighting cancer might not always end in your favor but an early diagnosis can increase your chances of survival.
Look Into Fertility Preservation
If youre hoping to get pregnant in the future and are undergoing chemo, ask about fertility preservation options like egg freezing. Chemo can diminish fertility. Its very important to address that prior to starting treatments, says Dr. Rosenblatt, who refers patients to her hospitals fertility center.
Take A Buddy To Every Appointment
I found it was helpful to take a buddy along with me to my appointments, at least in the beginning. He was good not only for moral support, but as another set of ears when confusing medical information was being relayed.
I also took copious notes in my iPad at visitswriting down questions before I arrived and notating answers during the appointment. If you cant bring another set of ears to the appointment, consider asking your doctor if you can record the information to review later.
Recommended Reading: Non Hormonal Breast Cancer
Which Surgical Option Do You Recommend Why
To determine which surgical approach may address your needs and treatment goals, your surgical oncologist may rely on information from the radiologist, who reads imaging tests the pathologist, who interprets the biopsy results the radiation oncologist, who works with the surgeon to plan radiation treatment either during or immediately after surgery and the medical oncologist, to predict how preoperative drug treatment may help reduce the size of the tumor. Depending on the biology and genetics of the tumor, your care team may recommend chemotherapy before or after surgery.
What Are The Different Options For Surgery
Surgery is the most common treatment for breast cancer. Procedures may include:
- Mastectomy: This surgery removes one or both breasts, including the breast tissue, nipple, areola and skin.
- Lumpectomy: Also known as breast-conserving surgery, this operation removes only the cancerous breast tissue while leaving as much healthy tissue as possible. A lumpectomy is not an option for every breast cancer patient.
- Sentinel node biopsy: This is the removal of one or a few of the first draining lymph nodes to determine whether cancer cells have spread beyond the breast.
- Oncoplastic and breast reconstruction surgery: This reconstructive technique reshapes the breast and also may be used to prevent scarring and deformation of the breast.
Don’t Miss: Estrogen Sensitive Cancer
Who Gets Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women other than skin cancer. Increasing age is the most common risk factor for developing breast cancer, with 66% of breast cancer patients being diagnosed after the age of 55.
In the US, breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer, and it’s the leading cause of cancer death among women ages 35 to 54. Only 5 to 10% of breast cancers occur in women with a clearly defined genetic predisposition for the disease. The majority of breast cancer cases are “sporadic, meaning there is no definitive gene mutation.
What This Means For You
If youve been diagnosed with breast cancer and are concerned about preserving your fertility, it makes sense to talk to your doctor about your fertility options before you start treatment. If your doctor doesnt bring up the subject, be your own best advocate and start the discussion.
If chemotherapy is recommended for you, it may be possible for you to be treated with medicine to temporarily shut down your ovaries while youre being treated. Research has shown that ovarian shut down during chemotherapy can increase the chances of having a child after treatment.
There also are other options available, including harvesting mature eggs from your ovaries before treatment starts. The most important thing to do is to talk to your doctor about fertility as youre planning your treatment. You also can ask for a referral to a fertility specialist for counseling before treatment begins.
For more information, visit the Breastcancer.org pages on Fertility and Pregnancy Issues During and After Breast Cancer.
To discuss this study with others or talk about your fertility options, join the Breastcancer.org Discussion Board forum Family and Family Planning Matters.
You May Like: Breast Cancer Metastasis Prognosis
Recommended Reading: Hormone Therapy For Breast Cancer Stage 1
Establishing A Breast Cancer Healthcare Team
Patients should form a care team to ensure complete care is provided upon receiving a breast cancer diagnosis. Whether it is through emotional support or medical procedures, establishing a team that can help a patient’s treatment and recovery journey from all angles is essential in the process. Members of this team can include:
- Primary care doctor
- Plastic surgeon
- Patient navigator
This team of individuals can provide quality care, whether it be through counseling or medical procedures, along with the comfort that patients will need during a critical time in their lives. If a patient must undergo a double mastectomy to prevent the cancer from spreading, post-cancer treatment such as breast reconstruction surgery may be necessary and may require another doctor and specialist. Depending on the severity of the prognosis, a team of palliative care or spiritual support providers may be needed throughout the process to help support both patients and their families.
Care For Breast Cancer Doesnt End After Initial Treatment Is Finished
Most people with breast cancer will continue to meet with their health care team on a regular basis. The team will check to make sure the cancer hasnt returned, manage any side effects, and monitor overall health. This is called follow-up care. For women who have not had both breasts removed, its generally recommended that they continue to have regular mammograms to screen for new breast cancers. Women with hormone receptor-positive cancer typically take anti-hormone pills for years following their diagnosis.
Its also important for individuals to continue to follow up with their primary care doctor for management of other illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease, and screening for other cancers, such as colon and cervical cancers. People who have been diagnosed with breast cancer should be sure to let their doctor know about their history of the disease and what treatments they received. Having a survivorship care plan can help keep all of this information in a single place.
Recommended Reading: How Serious Is Stage 3 Breast Cancer
Just Diagnosed With Breast Cancer: Answers From An Expert
Dr. Norah Lynn Henry is an Associate Professor in the University of Utah’s Division of Oncology in the Department of Medicine. She is Leader of the Womens Cancers Disease Center at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Dr. Henry is the Cancer.Net Associate Editor for Breast Cancer.
Most people know someone who has breast cancer. But do you know how common the disease really is? In the United States, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed in her lifetime. That means more women are diagnosed with this cancer than any other, excluding skin cancer. The good news is that there are fewer deaths from breast cancer each year, in part because of new treatments.
Here are 9 key facts about breast cancer.
I Was Diagnosed With Breast Cancer And Decided To Do Nothing
In August of 2007 I went to the doctor for a checkup. My doctor recommended a mammogram because my mother had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer for a second time. I was 43 and at that point they were only giving women in their early 40s mammograms if there was a family history of breast cancer and both my mother and her sister had had breast cancer. When my mother was first diagnosed, in 2001, she had a lumpectomy and radiation, which was the standard treatment for what they called breast cancer, but what Ive now come to understand was DCIS, or ductal carcinoma in situ, which they also call stage zero, but may or may not be correlated with invasive breast cancer. Its looking more and more like it might be its own animal, that it might be a marker for cancer, but that its not in fact cancer.
I didnt tell my mother what was going on with me because there was nothing to tell. But I knew that three weeks in my future was the surgical biopsy, which would reveal if I had breast cancer. At the same time I was working maniacally this is how I cope finishing my book manuscript and filing my tenure materials. I had the surgery on a Monday and that Saturday I flew from Los Angeles to give a paper at a conference in Philadelphia.
Also Check: Does Nipple Piercing Cause Breast Cancer
There Are Many Resources For People With Breast Cancer
People with breast cancer dont have to face it alone. In addition to the assistance provided by clinic social workers, there are many support and advocacy groups for people and families affected by breast cancer. Although everyone should be careful when seeking resources on the internet, there are reliable websites like Cancer.Net and the National Cancer Institutes Cancer.Gov that contain a lot of useful information about breast cancer. Doctors can also provide recommendations for resources and support.
How Long Is Chemo For Breast Cancer
Chemotherapy is often administered after surgery to remove any undetected breast cancer cells. Chemotherapy can also help reduce your risk of the cancer returning.
Chemotherapy should usually be given within 30 days of surgery and less than 120 days from the initial diagnosis. One study showed women who started chemotherapy two months after surgery had a 19 percent lower chance to survive compared to women who began chemotherapy a month after surgery.
Treatment comes in cycles that can occur once a week or once every three weeks. Following a period of recovery, this process can continue for up to six months. Women with more aggressive forms of cancer may receive chemotherapy for longer than that.
Not all stages of cancer require chemotherapy. Depending on the results of pathology from surgery, your doctor will decide the best plan for adjuvant treatment. You may also be a candidate for hormonal therapy.
Recommended Reading: Breast Cancer What To Expect
Don’t Miss: Symptoms Of Stage 2 Breast Cancer
Anyone Can Get Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is more common after menopause, but younger women can develop it too. Men can also be diagnosed with the disease, although its rare. There are some factors that increase the risk of developing breast cancer, including being overweight and greater amounts of alcohol use. However, for most people diagnosed with breast cancer, doctors cant identify a specific cause.
Will My Breast Look Or Feel Differently After Surgery
After a lumpectomy, or breast-sparing surgery, your breast may look much like it did before the operation. But if the tumor was large, your breast may look different or smaller. You will likely develop a scar at the site of the lumpectomy. You may also likely develop numbness along the scar.
If lymph nodes in the underarm area are removed during surgery, you may experience some numbness in your arm. As your body continues to adjust to the effects of surgery, you may develop phantom sensations or phantom pain in the breast that has been removed. Those pains are more likely to develop if you experienced breast pain before your mastectomy.
After reconstructive surgery, you will have a breast-like shape, but your breast will likely not look or feel like it did before your mastectomy. You will have scars where the surgeon attached skin to make the new breast-like shape. If you have tissue flap reconstruction, you will have scars around the new breast and the area where the surgeon removed the muscle, fat and skin transferred for the reconstruction.
Although surgery leaves scars, some may fade somewhat over time.
Also Check: Anne Hathaway Breast
See If You Can Continue To Work
Ask your doctor whether youll be able to work, study, or care for your family. The answer depends on the surgery and whether youre having chemo. I think patients are very concerned about what theyll be able to do during treatments, says Dr. Rosenblatt. Its a relief when I say most of my patients are able to continue working. It can also be a relief when I say I can fill out an FMLA form so they can take time off.
Is My Cancer Invasive Or Noninvasive
A tumor is an abnormal growth that may be benign or malignant. Benign breast tumors are not life-threatening and do not spread to other parts of the body. Malignant breast tumors are cancers that impact your health and may spread to other parts of the body. A malignant tumor that grows into surrounding tissue is considered invasive. Invasive tumors are more likely to spread to other parts of the body than non-invasive tumors. Non-invasive breast cancer cells remain in a particular area of the breast without spreading to surrounding tissue, lobules or ducts.
Also Check: Third Stage Breast Cancer
Has The Cancer Spread To My Lymph Nodes Or Other Organs
Cancer may spread from the site where it originated to other parts of the body. When cancer cells move away from a tumor, they may travel through the bloodstream to distant organs. If they travel through the lymph system, the cancer cells may end up in lymph nodes. The lymph nodes in the underarm are the first-place breast cancer is most likely to spread. Your doctor may perform a biopsy to check for the presence of cancer cells. The sample is examined by a pathologist who checks the nodes under a microscope. That exam determines lymph node status.
The spread of cancer to another part of the body is called metastasis. If breast cancer has metastasized to other areas of the body, it is categorized as stage 4 breast cancer. Typically, breast cancer metastasizes primarily to the lungs, liver, brain, regional lymph nodes and bone.
What To Do When You Are Diagnosed With Cancer During Pregnancy
Elyce Cardonick, MD, is a professor in obstetrics and gynecology at Cooper Medical School at Rowan University in Camden, New Jersey. Dr. Cardonick closely follows a cohort study of over 450 pregnant women diagnosed with cancer since 1997, including evaluating outcomes for the mother and child long beyond the postpartum period. Dr. Cardonick has lectured at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine on the treatment of cancer during pregnancy. Dr. Cardonick is also a medical advisor for Hope for Two: The Pregnant with Cancer Network.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis during pregnancy can be scary. The excitement of the pregnancy is quickly replaced by the fear of the cancer. Then, the focus of the mother often shifts to wanting to protect the unborn child at all costs. Pregnant women with cancer will often stop focusing on the cancer and instead focus on getting well for the sake of their unborn child, as well as for other children they may have, their partner, or other members of the family who may need them.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed during pregnancy. In fact, approximately 7% to 10% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are younger than the age of 40. And when cancer is diagnosed in women age 30 or younger, an estimated 10% to 20% of cancers are detected either during pregnancy or within the first year after giving birth.
You May Like: Stage 4 Breast Cancer Symptoms Treatments
Should I Consider Genetic Testing
Genetic testing may help determine if your cancer resulted from an inherited gene mutation. Genetic counseling may help you understand the risks, benefits and limitations of genetic testing in certain situations. A genetic counselor, doctor or other health care professional trained in genetics may help you and your family understand your test results and other findings, such as a genetic risk factor for another disease like diabetes or heart conditions.
Breast Cancer Treatment: Beyond Surgery
Many women might undergo additional treatments before or after their breast surgery. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are the most familiar to most patients, but another common treatment option is anti-hormone therapy.
This treatment targets the estrogen receptors commonly found in breast cancers. Anti-hormone drugs block these receptors to prevent the cancer cells from reproducing. Patients typically remain on the anti-hormone drugs for five years, but women with a higher risk of recurrence may take the medications for 10 years.
You May Like: Chest Cancer In Female
How To Cope When You Are Diagnosed With Cancer During Pregnancy
Although it is normal for pregnant women with cancer to focus on the unborn child and not themselves, know that the best way to have a healthy child is to take care of yourself during your pregnancy. Consider cancer treatment during pregnancy if that is advised by your doctor. Also take time for yourself, accept help from others, rest, and eat when you can between and during treatments. Know you are not alone approximately 1 in 1,000 pregnant women are diagnosed with cancer each year.
If you are receiving cancer treatment while pregnant, be sure to have an open dialogue with your health care team about how the cancer treatment may impact you and your child. The most important question for those newly diagnosed with cancer to ask is, How would I be treated if I were not pregnant? The next question to ask should be, Has this treatment been given before, and what were the risks and outcomes for the children?