Even though the world has progressed tremendously in the field of medical science and other technologies, there are certain health ailments that continue to increase the mortality rate. One such life-threatening ailment is cancer, and it can affect any part of the body. As cancer progresses, it affects the individual physically and psychologically. The patient has to suffer the physical and mental consequences of cancer.
One such form of cancer that is known to affect millions of women every year is breast cancer, which is second only to skin cancer. Breast cancer usually occurs in the lobules or the ducts of the breasts and can spread to the adjacent tissues. Also, there are several types of breast cancer which are divided into two main categories: invasive and noninvasive or in situ.
Like every other form of cancer, breast cancer can be treated only when it is detected in its initial stages. As cancer progresses and it affects the nearby tissues and organs, the treatment aims to reduce the symptoms of the condition and prevent cancer from causing more damages.
The different options for treating breast cancer are as follows:
Surgery is the most-opted for treatment for breast cancer in its initial stages. Based on the gravity of the condition, the patient will be advised to undergo mastectomy or lumpectomy. Mastectomy involves removing the whole breast to prevent the progression of cancer to other tissues, whereas lumpectomy or breast-conserving surgery involves removing only the cancerous tumor and the tissues surrounding it.
Radiation therapy is often performed after the patient undergoes the surgery. The sole purpose of radiation therapy is to ensure that cancer does not come back in the breast. There are three types of radiation therapy: external beam radiation therapy, intra-operative radiation therapy, and brachytherapy.
This form of breast cancer treatment involves using medicines to destroy cancer cells. At times, patients undergo chemotherapy, but mostly this form of treatment is administered along with other breast cancer treatments like surgery. Moreover, doctors even administer chemotherapy as a part of the pre-surgery treatment plan to shrink the tumor. This is done with the intention of ensuring that the surgery wouldn’t be that invasive.
This breast cancer treatment involves using medicines to prevent hormones like estrogen from promoting the growth of breast cancer cells. These medicines include tamoxifen that is prescribed to women before and after their menopause and aromatase inhibitors that include anastrozole, exemestane, and letrozole are meant for postmenopausal women. The side-effects of hormone therapy include hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Certain medicines used in hormone therapy stop the ovaries from making the hormones that can give an impetus to the growth of breast cancer cells.
As the name suggests, this form of breast cancer treatment works by specifically targeting cancer cells in the breast. It includes the use of medicines like lapatinib, pertuzumab, and trastuzumab which prompt the body’s immune system to destroy the cancer cells. These medicines actively target breast cancer cells that have high levels of a protein called HER2. Some of these medications work by blocking the substance that promotes the growth of breast cancer cells.