Breast cancer is a topic of global interest because it is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women. Despite the mortality rate, it is one of the curable cancers only if women go for treatment upon discovering the early signs of breast cancer.
Breast cancer is an abnormal growth of cells in the breast tissue. Any breast lump that is hard is suspicious. Detecting breast cancer symptoms is quite easy but most women delay seeking medical screening. The recommendations for screening are as follows:
- Age 20 onward: Self-breast examination every month, and is best done on the fifth day after menstruation
- Women below 40: Clinical breast examination by a medical specialist every three years
- Women above 40: Clinical breast examination and mammogram every year
- Women with a higher risk profile: More aggressive screening procedure
The commonly used screening procedure is mammography which is an imaging technique that employs serial X-rays to visualize breast tissues and detect masses not felt during a self-breast examination. This screening procedure is not perfect as it may fail to show some tumors or may show an abnormality in a normal breast.
When a lump is found, a biopsy is done to check for the dreaded cancer.
Chemotherapy and radiation remain the standard breast cancer treatments. There are other newer treatment methods which are still undergoing clinical trails.
Targeted Biological Therapy is the treatment targeting specific characteristics of cancer cells. This method, when compared to chemotherapy, is less likely to harm normal healthy cells.
Hormone Therapy, also known as anti-oestrogen therapy, retards the ability of oestrogen to stimulate the growth of the cancer cells.
Anti-Angiogenic Medications are drugs which kill the cancer cells by cutting-off blood supply to them (cancer cells).
Breast cancer is curable if it is detected and treated at its early stage or upon discovering symptoms.