Understanding Breast Cancer ………. 1 [by Dr. Ulhas Ganu]

Understanding Breast Cancer ………. 1

[by Dr. Ulhas Ganu, M.Sc. Ph. D. (Biochem),  P.G.D. Management Studies]

Breast Cancer is one of the most important cancers in  women. To a small extent, breast cancer does occur in men also. We know  that practically cells from any part of the body can become cancerous.  Understanding signs and symptoms leads to early diagnosis and timely therapy.

The American  Cancer Society has described very precisely the signs and symptoms  for breast cancer, which are very difficult to be missed by the  individual herself. Yet majority of cases are presented late for treatment.  Attending to the symptoms early enough can help diagnosing breast cancer fairly early.

Signs and Symptoms of Breast  Cancer


If a lump or a mass in the breast

*  Hard

* Invariably Painless,

* having Irregular Edges

It is More Likely to be Cancerous than not, (American Cancer Society)

However, that Does Not  Rule Out ………. the possibility of a Tender, Soft and Rounded Mass being Cancerous.

Hence a Proper  Examination of such a mass  by a Trained Medical  Expert is necessary and goes a long way in Early  Diagnosis of Breast Cancer.

Other possible symptoms of breast cancer include:

* Swelling of All or Part of a Breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)

* Skin Irritation or Dimpling

* Breast or Nipple Pain

* Nipple Retraction(turning inward)

* Redness, Scaliness, or

* Thickening  of the Nipple or breast skin

* A nipple discharge other than breast milk

(American Cancer Society)

Generally when the Primary  Tumor in the breast has grown large  enough, and sometimes even before that, Nodules, Lump or Swelling can  be detected in the armpit or around the collar  bone, which could be a sign of spread of breast cancer in the nearby region.

While there is no  reason to panic as similar signs and symptoms can be caused by many  other conditions, it is wiser to be cautious and investigate properly from a  trained medical professional in case anyone has these symptoms.

An early detection is the gateway to proper and many times curative treatment.

Getting 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 diseaseTata  Memorial Hospital (TMH) from Mumbai is one of the leading cancer  treatment centers in the world and amongst the oldest in India.

Also read: Modifiable Factors For Prevention Of Prostate Cancer …… 3

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.

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.

~ 35% of those cases are Locally Advanced cancers requiring Multi-Modality  Treatment.

The Unit also  has Many Research Protocols in  various trial phases.

Investigator-generated  trials are appreciated and are focused on various clinical settings of operable  breast cancer Adjuvant Treatment, Neo-Adjuvant (in locally advanced breast  cancer) and role of Loco-Regional Treatment in Primary Metastatic Breast Cancer.

We would try to  understand more about these terms in subsequent articles. Knowing the meaning  of these modalities would help one understand how the doctors plan the most  suitable therapy and help the patient and her relatives in the decision  making process

Tata Memorial Hospital offers  free online facility to patients for seeking opinion or advice on treatment  options available to the cancer patients. TMH has tied up with  Navya Network, a company founded by Harvard University’s Computer Science  graduate Gitika Srivastava and Dr Naresh Ramrajan, to create a clinical  decision system which processes patient data, structures it and provides  treatment options which can be rapidly reviewed by the doctor to provide a  final opinion. The TMH sponsored online treatment opinion services are  currently free of cost and are available to the patient between 3 – 7 days.  Patients across the globe have been benefitted through the system.

1. American  Cancer Society:


2. Tata  Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, India


3. Tata  Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, India


To know more: Stages 0 & 1- National Breast Cancer Foundation

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