The treatment plan may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy, or some combination of these.
DescriptionCurrent statistics report that one woman in nine will get breast cancer in her lifetime. This does not mean that a 30-year-old woman is at high risk of developing breast cancer at that point in her life, but rather that she has a one-in-nine chance of developing the condition at some point in her life. In actuality, a woman has a I-in-5900 chance of having breast cancer at age 30, and a risk of 1-in-800 at age 80. Men rarely develop breast cancer.Heredity plays a large role in determining a woman's risk for breast cancer. People who have three or more close relatives with the condition, and people whose families have breast cancer in more than one generation are at increased risk. People who have relatives with early onset of breast cancer, cancer in both breasts, or ovarian cancer also have an elevated risk of developing breast cancer. Women who have mutations of the BRCAI or BRCA2 genes have up to an 85 percent chance of developing breast cancer by age 70. This genetic mutation occurs most often in Jewish women of Ashkenazi descent.Yet, heredity is not the only risk factor for developing breast cancer. A high-fat diet, excessive alcohol intake, obesity, giving birth to a child after the age of 30 or not giving birth at all, an early onset of menstruation, and menopause after age 52 are all thought to increase breast cancer risk. Exposure to environmental toxins are another suspected risk factor. On the other hand, some women develop breast cancer without being in any of the high-risk groups.Signs and SymptomsA lump or thickening in the breast or the tissue surrounding the breastTenderness in the breastSwelling in the armpit areaChange in the appearance of the breast (one may be higher than the other, or take on a different shape)An area of flattening or indentation of the skin of the breast Change in color or texture of the breastChange in the nipple (nipple may be retracted, dimpled, itchy, or flaking)Clear or bloody discharge from the nippleConventional Medical TreatmentIf you notice even a slight change in one or both breasts, visit your physician immediately, since breast cancer can spread to the lymph nodes and to other parts of the body. Your doctor physically examines your breasts and takes a mammogram, or breast X-ray. If the mammogram reveals a mass of tissue, or is unclear, your physician may recommend an ultrasound test. This diagnostic test uses sound waves to create an image of interior breast tissue. It is used not only to pinpoint the location of a mass, but to help determine whether the mass is cancerous. In many cases, a needle biopsy is required to confirm diagnosis. There are two types of needle biopsies. During fine needle aspiration, a small needle is inserted into the breast lump. If the lump is a cyst and not a tumor, fluid will drain from it when pierced with the needle. If the lump is a tumor, cells are removed for examination. During a core needle biopsy, actual breast tissue cells are removed for examination.If the tumor is less than 4 centimeters in size, it can be surgically removed with a lumpectomy (removal of the lump), followed by radiation. If the tumor is large, mastectomy (removal of the breast and underlying tissue) is necessary. After mastectomy, the breast can be reconstructed either at the time of surgery or at a later date. During breast cancer surgery, lymph nodes from the underarm are removed and examined for the presence of cancer cells. Women with positive lymph nodes require follow-up chemotherapy or hormone therapy with tamoxifen. There are several treatment options for breast cancer, depending on ,the size of the tumor, lymph node involvement, and whether the tumor cells have positive or negative estrogen receptors. Women should discuss the various options with their physicians.Hormone therapy is another common method of treating breast cancer. The hormone tamoxifen blocks the effects of estrogen on the breast, which in turns stops the growth of cancerous cells. Unfortunately, tamoxifen has been shown to raise the risk of uterine cancer, so women are screened carefully before being given the drug.