- An unnatural lump in the breast
- The breasts have changed their size of shape recently
- The breast skin has developed dimples or the breast tissues have thickened
- The position of the nipple has inverted
- Rashes or eczema start to develop on the nipples
- Abnormal fluid discharge is observed from the nipples
- You can feel swelling or lumps in the armpits
- There is abnormal pain or discomfort in the breasts that doesn’t go away
Breast Cancer is usually first diagnosed by physical examination. If the symptoms are there, the doctors may advise the following tests:
- Breast Ultrasound
- Ultrasound of the Lymph Nodes
- Blood Tests
- Breast MRI Scans
Breast cancers have a hundred percent success rate when diagnosed in the early stages and have excellent survival rate till the intermediate stages too. The chances of survival and long life reduce considerably in the progressive stages and hence early detection and treatment can save a lot of lives.
For the treatment of breast cancer oncologists follow a comprehensive approach. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy and biological therapy are performed for the treatment of breast cancer.
The success of the treatment depends on many factors like the type of breast cancer, its stage and grade, sensitivity of the cancer cells to hormones, overall health of the patient, and the age of the patient.
- Lumpectomy: Small tumors in the breast along with surrounding tissues are removed surgically.
- Mastectomy: This is a major surgery involving the removal of breast, or lobules, ducts, fatty tissues, nipple, areola, chest wall, lymph nodes in the armpit as per need.
- Sentinel Node Biopsy: If the cancer has spread to the lymph node it is removed through this surgery.
- Auxiliary Lymph Node Dissection: in case sentinel nodes have cancer then several lymph nodes of the armpit are removed through this surgery.
- Breast Reconstruction Surgery: after the removal of the breast for cancer treatment this reconstructive surgery is done to replace the best to look as natural as possible.
- Chemotherapy plays an important role in restricting the growth of tumors.
- It is administered through mouth or intravenously.
- The drugs reach the bloodstream and restrict the growth of malignant cells.
- The drugs can also be injected directly into the area with cancerous growth.
- Radiotherapy may be required to restrict the growth of cancer cells.
- 3-6 weeks of radiotherapy may be required in which 3-5 sessions per week may be given.
- Breast radiation therapy: This is done after lumpectomy.
- Chest wall radiation therapy: it is done after mastectomy.
- Breast boost: high dosage of radiation is given after the surgical removal of tumor from the breast.
- Lymph node radiation therapy: cancer cells that have reached the lymph nodes are destroyed through this therapy.
- It is used for treating breast cancers that are sensitive to hormones.
- In case due to old age or other health reasons the patient is unable to undergo surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy then hormone therapy remains the only way of providing relief.
- It can last up to five years.
After the Procedure
- The patient will need to stay in the hospital for few days depending upon the condition and stage of the cancer and type of surgery performed.
- Complete recovery may take few months and may take a bit longer for advance stage patients.
- Follow up visits and tests will be required at regular intervals to check the growth of the cells or resurgence of the tumor.
- The patient will have to face some side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy like rapid hair loss, vomiting, weight loss, weakness, etc.
- With the help of medication these symptoms can be reduced and things can be made easier for the patient.
- If the symptoms like upset stomach, loss of appetite, abrupt menstrual cycle, fatigue and back pain, rapid weight loss, urinary problems, abdominal pain, bloating, etc. reappear and remain steady for long then the patient must consult the doctor again.
Factors Affecting the Cost of Breast Cancer Treatment
Some of the following factors may affect your cost of treatment:
- The kind of hospital you opt for
- Room– Standard single room, deluxe room, super deluxe room for the number of nights specified (including nursing fee, meals, room rate, and room service)
- Operating room, ICU
- Fee for the team of doctors (Surgeons, Surgical and Radiation Oncologists, Anesthetist, Diagnostic Radiologists, Physiotherapist, Dietician)
- Standard test and diagnostic procedures
- Type of surgery undertaken
- No. of chemotherapy sessions required
- If radiotherapy is required