Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer
It is important to note that pain can more often be a symptom of non-cancerous (benign) tumor. Yet, one should not be complacent but needs to be vigilant and get examined by a doctor to ascertain it.
While any or all these symptoms may not always end in breast cancer, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional when any of these symptoms appear. Mammograms may help in detecting breast cancer before the appearance of a symptom. However, it must be stressed that mammograms are not always successful in discovering breast cancer. That does not mean you should not take one! Any prevention is better than cure. So, go out there, make that visit, consult your doctor and take a step closer to knowledge and, perhaps, relief!
The stages of Breast Cancer are explained in details below:
Survival rates indicate an average outcome of large number of people who had the disease, but they cannot precisely predict the expectancy of any particular case. The survival rate of Breast Cancer when detected at an early stage is quite high and if the detection is delayed till the last stage then the chances of survival drop significantly. Since, the symptoms of Breast Cancer are quite evident being aware of the condition aids in early detection.
Breast Cancer is sometimes found after symptoms appear, but many women with Breast Cancer have no symptoms. This is why regular Breast Cancer screening is so important.
Earlier the detection the better is the outcome of therapy (prognosis).About 70% of the patients are offered Breast Conservation Surgery and approximately 5% overall also undergo breast reconstruction.
About 35% of those cases are Locally Advanced cancers requiring Multi-Modality Treatment.
Right Diagnosis is the first step towards getting Right Treatment as various treatment options exist, which vary depending upon the spread of the disease, whether to nearby region or to distant organs (metastases) and the stage of the disease. Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) from Mumbai is one of the leading cancer treatment centers in the world and amongst the oldest in India.
The Breast (Cancer) Unit of the Tata Memorial Hospital diagnoses about 4400 new Breast Cancer cases per year, 60% of which are operable ones. The unit performs on an average 45 Breast Cancer surgeries per week.
Treatments available are dependent on the stages of cancer. Primary treatments available are as follows:
Diagnosing Breast Cancer early is the key to optimum treatment and a better prognosis, i.e. outcome of therapy Breast Cancer is highly treatable when detected at an early stage. However, the recurrence rate of Breast Cancer is also high, so proper care needs to be taken even after complete treatment and regular inspections and examinations needs to be done at least once a year to avoid the turmoil again.
In case of experiencing any of the mentioned symptoms or having a prior or familial history of Breast Cancer, a physical examination by a specialist is recommended once in a year.
Diagnostic methods include a screening mammogram and clinical breast examination. Sometimes, Breast Cancer can even be diagnosed with a simple self-examination, when lumps on or near the breasts are felt. However, not every change in the breast is a sign of Breast Cancer. It is advisable to visit the doctor nonetheless as more information is needed for an accurate diagnosis.
Breast Self Examination (BSE) One can use this method at home to check for lumps once a month.
(Adapted from the American Cancer Society by Health Gate Editorial Staff)
For a menstruating woman, the best time to do BSE is 2 or 3 days after the period ends. These are the days when the breasts are least likely to be tender or swollen. For woman who have undergone menopause, any day of the month is suitable to do a BSE. For those taking hormones, consulting the doctor about BSE would be helpful.
Here are 5 efficient self examination tests that can be done at home:
Feel the tissue by pressing your fingers in small, overlapping areas about the size of a dime. To be sure you cover your whole breast, take your time and follow a definite pattern: lines, circles, or wedges.
Pay special attention to the area between the breast and the underarm, including the underarm itself. Check the area above the breast, up to the collarbone and all the way over to your shoulder.