Breast cancer is a harrowing thought for anyone, even those who don’t currently suffer from the illness. In 2012 alone, the American Cancer Society predicts there will be about 226,000 new cases of breast cancer and that nearly 40,000 people will lose their lives to this illness. After skin cancer, it is the second most common cancer among women in the USA and every woman has about a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer at some point in her life.
Because of this high incidence of breast cancer, it is incredibly important that women are aware of the dangers and check themselves regularly for any abnormal lumps or bumps. It isn’t only women who are susceptible though – men can also get breast cancer too. In fact, about 1 in every 300 cases of breast cancer occurs in a male.
Breast cancer treatment has improved hugely in the past few decades and now the chances of recovering from breast cancer are better than ever. An increase in public awareness is also a major factor in this increase in survivors, as the earlier the cancer is caught, the more chance there is of surviving. There are currently over 2.5 million women in the USA who have survived breast cancer, which is testament to the fact that it can be cured.
There are a number of options open to doctors and other medical specialists when it comes to breast cancer treatment. Every person is different and the type of breast cancer treatment that’s suitable for one person might be completely wrong for another person though. Doctors will be able to decide on the best action for you if you are suffering from breast cancer, and they are likely to use one or more of the following options for breast cancer treatment…
Surgery is definitely one of the options a doctor will consider when looking at the best breast cancer treatment for you. In fact, it is usually the first tactic used for most patients. Most surgery comes in the form of a mastectomy, whereby the breast tissue is removed, along with the cancerous tissue. This is not as destructive to the breasts as it used to be, but many patients opt for breast reconstruction after they have beaten their cancer.
The other major surgical procedure often carried out as a breast cancer treatment is a lumpectomy, and this involves removing a lot less breast tissue and simply targeting the cancerous tumor. Lymph node removal is also sometimes performed, and this is where the lymph node is removed is the cancer has spread away from the milk duct.
Radiotherapy is a breast cancer treatment that works by targeting radiation towards the area of the breast affected by the cancer. This radiation then kills some, if not all, of the cancer cells in the area. It is most commonly used after surgery has been performed though. This is because the surgeon can’t always be 100% sure that they have removed all of the cancer, so treating the area with radiotherapy removes any cancerous cells that have been missed.
Radiotherapy is clinically proven to be a valuable tool in the fight against breast cancer. In fact, women not taking radiotherapy after surgery have a 60% higher risk of getting breast cancer again later in life. It is also a myth that radiation therapy produces horrible side-effects. Although there are often some side-effects, they are not as drastic as people make out and it could be that people are confusing radiotherapy with chemotherapy, which has much worse side-effects.
Although the side-effects of chemotherapy are not pleasant, it is still often an integral breast cancer treatment option. It is the process of using medicines to destroy, or at least weaken, cancer cells in the body – including cancer cells that might have already spread away from the breast.
Chemotherapy is often used after surgery to ensure that all of the cancerous cells are gone, much like radiotherapy. It can also be given before surgery, so that the cancer shrinks and is therefore easier to remove. Its other application is when the breast cancer is at an advanced stage and the cells need to be vigorously attacked.
There are, of course, other methods used as breast cancer treatment, such as hormonal therapy and targeted therapies, but the ones listed above are the most well-known and commonly used. Any good doctor will be able to provide more information on the types of breast cancer treatment.