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Breast Cancer

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What is Breast Cancer?

Breast Cancer is a disease caused by breast cells that grow out of control. Breast cancer is most often found in women, but can also occur in men.  Common symptoms of breast cancer are a lump in the breast or underarm and a change in the size or shape of the breast. Some may be found with pain in the breast, thickening or swelling of part of the breast, irritation or dimpling of breast skin, redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast, pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area and nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.

There are two common types of breast cancer – invasive ductal carcinoma which begins in the ducts and then invades the other parts of the breast, and invasive lobular carcinoma which begins at the lobules and then spreads to close by tissues. Both common types of breast cancer can develop in a different part of the breast and can be metastasised or spread outside the breast through blood and lymph vessels to other parts of the body.

There is also non-invasive breast cancer or carcinoma in situ which also begins in the duct. However, cancer does not spread to surrounding breast tissue. Other less common types of breast cancer include inflammatory breast cancer and Paget’s disease.

What causes breast cancer?

The exact cause of breast cancer is not fully understood. Hence, studies have found some risk factors associated with breast cancer including

  • Ages: Risk of breast cancer correlated with age, as most patients are diagnosed after the age of 50.
  • Genetic Mutations: Scientists found that certain genes, including BRCA1 and BRCA2, are associated with breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Hormones: Estrogen and Progesterone are also related to breast cancer, causing patients with hormone replacement therapy or using oral contraceptives to have a greater risk of breast cancer.
  • Reproductive history: Women who started menstrual periods before age 12, are still in menstrual periods after age 55, or had their first pregnancy after age 30 have a greater risk of breast cancer.
  • Having dense breasts: Dense breasts are breasts with more connective tissue than fatty tissue, which their cells can outgrow into cancer.
  • Personal history of breast cancer, or non-cancerous breast disease: Patients who previously have a non-cancerous disease such as atypical hyperplasia, lobular carcinoma in situ, or breast cancer are increasingly at risk of breast cancer.
  • Family history of breast cancer, or ovarian cancer: Breast cancer can transfer to genes, especially in families where the mother, sister, or daughter has a history of breast or ovarian cancer.
  • Treatment using radiation therapy: Radiation therapy (not including radiation photography like X-ray) to the chest or breasts before age of 30 can increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • Being overweight or having obesity after menopause: Older women who are overweight or not physically active have a higher risk of breast cancer.
  • Alcohol and Smoking: Studies show that the risk of breast cancer is also associated with drinking and smoking.

You can reduce the risk of breast cancer by eating healthy diets, exercising regularly, and avoiding alcohol and smoking. Breastfeeding also reduced the risk of breast cancer in women who have children. For women who have a high risk of breast cancer, Mastectomy or surgery to remove breast tissue can be considered a preventive option.

How to detect Breast Cancer?

Luckily, breast cancer can be self-examined, using mirrors to see physical changes in your breast, and using your touch to check for breast lumps and abnormalities. If you find lumps or abnormalities, don’t hesitate to visit the doctor to take a further diagnosis. 

Thus, we recommend women who are 40 to 49 years old should talk to their doctor or other healthcare providers about screening tests for breast cancer. The mostly used screening procedure is the mammogram, a low-dose radiology imaging procedure used to detect abnormal breast tissue growth or changes, among with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the breast in case of women with a higher risk of breast cancer.

If a physician suspects breast cancer, they may require an ultrasound scan to provide an image of lumps or abnormalities in your breast. Another procedure needed is a biopsy to take about suspicious cells and test to see if is it cancer or not. Also, if the physician suspects metastasis, they may require an X-ray, CT Scan, or Ultrasound of the lungs, liver, bones, and lymph nodes.

Breast cancer can be identified as stages to describe the size of cancer, how far it spreads, and the chance of progression. Ductal carcinoma in situ is sometimes described as stage 0 while Stage I is the tumour measure less than 2 cm, lymph nodes still not affected, and no sign of the spread. The progress can be as much as Stage IV which the tumour is larger than 5 cm and adhere to the structure in the breast, and the cancer is spread to other parts of the body.

Living with Breast Cancer

Breast cancer, like other types of cancers, can be treated in several ways based on the conditions and spread of the cancer. The most common treatments include 

  • Surgeries: Options for breast cancer surgery include breast-conserving surgery in which tumours are removed, and mastectomy which removes whole breast tissue and may require breast implant or reconstruction. Surgery to remove lymph nodes may be required if cancer spreads to lymph nodes.
  • Chemotherapies: Using cytotoxic medicine through a drip straight into the vein to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapies can be used in combination with surgeries to shrink larger cancer tumours before surgeries.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy for breast cancer includes radiotherapy to remaining tissue after breast-conserving surgery, radiotherapy to the chest wall after mastectomy, high-dose radiotherapy in the area where the cancer was removed, and radiotherapy to lymph nodes.
  • Hormonal therapy: Management of Estrogen and Progesterone using medicines can be effective with hormone receptor-positive cancers, as lower levels of hormones can inhibit the growth of tumours. 
  • Targeted therapy: Trastuzumab (also known as Herceptin) can be used to stop cancer from growing or spreading.

Some patients may require more than one kind of treatment, and treatment can last for years. Many patients with breast cancer also have to cope with the removal of part or all of a breast. Making dealing with breast cancer a huge challenge for patients, their families, and their friends, emotional support is also an essential need throughout dealing with cancer.

After the treatment, regular follow-ups and mammograms are necessary. Some patients may suffer from pain and stiffness in their arms and shoulders after surgery. Some may suffer from lymphoedema, a build-up of excess lymph fluid that causes swelling. Talk to your doctors or healthcare providers to deal with long-term effects and treatment for them.

In case of breast removal, an external breast prosthesis can be used as a replacement for the volume of the breast that’s been removed. Reconstruction of the breast can also be done after mastectomy, using your own tissue or an implant reconstructing your breast.

Dealing with Breast cancer at Phyathai 1 International

Breast Center of Phyathai 1 International are prepared for dealing with breast cancer from the early to the advanced stage. We can provide mammogram diagnostic services using three-dimensional digital mammogram machines, breast CT and biopsy to identify the cancer cell, and breast cancer treatment done by our professional and experienced multidisciplinary MDT Team, which includes specialists in internal medicine, cancer treatment, cancer surgery, radiology diagnostic, radiology treatment, and genetic medicine, as well as nutritionists and psychologists, as a joint effort between Breast Center and Great Life Center

Our MDT-team would then offer the most specific treatment procedure, both surgical and non-surgical, that proved to be the most effective with the fewest side effects to ensure that patients received the most benefit from the treatment which will always increase their Quality-of-Life

If you consider yourself screening for breast cancer, or consider about options on cancer treatment through our specialist Breast Care Center, you can consult with us as we open daily from 7 am to 5 pm. To ensure the fastest procedure time, We recommend taking a reservation  by phone at number (+66)2-201-4600 ext.3659-60 or by E-mail at [email protected].

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