Breast cancer -Stages and Treatment Options
Signs of Breast cancer really determin the breast cancer stages has been broken out with great havoc. Approximately 40,500 women become victim of this chronic disease each year in England and Wales and then seek different kinds of breast cancer treatments. Men also have not been saved from this trauma, though women are the major sufferer of this bloody bug.
This syndrome has not left any country with its effects. Breast cancer requires very much attention and awareness among our people so that we may save ourselves with this ailment.
In the country like Pakistan lack of awareness, hesitation, lump of problems and shortage of financial resources make patient unable to cure and he goes into the mouth of fatality soon. There are a number of treatments carried out for the cure of breast cancer
The treatment varies from patient to patient depending upon his immune system, age and stage of the cancer. A number of ways can be opted like surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy and so on.
Above all one should know about this disease and its symptoms. It is always recommended that women above 40 years should have their regular medical checkup because they have greater chances of breast cancer.
Everyone can have his/her own check up at home. According to Consultant breast surgeon Clive Griffith, when someone feels any abnormality in the shape of his/her breast or some deformity near the breast must consult the physician.
These checkups and self assessments can help you determine the breast cancer stages. Different people face different behaviors like some women have lump at their armpit or the darkening or zit on the breast, thickening of tissues, behavior of breast during menstrual time period, sometimes become tender near armpits.
After hysterectomy (removal of the womb) and menopause women should be conscious about their health.
Sooner the cancer is detected effective is the therapy. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises to check out regularly for the symptoms of breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Stages
The classification of breast cancer has been done on the basis of development of the disease and hence has been categorized into four stages of breast cancer. This classification helps in treatment of the disease in a clear way.
Early (zero) stage of breast cancer is the most initial stage when the tumor is limited to only breast tissue and is not regulated towards lymph node.
Stage 1 of breast cancer is the stage when the tumor size grows to 1 cm and other tissues and organs are not affected.
In Stage 2A the tumor involves lymph node with the increase in size less than 2 cm but when the size ranges from 2-5 cm it may not involve axillary lymph nodes.
In Stage 2B the tumor size increases from 5 cm with or without involvement of axillary lymph nodes.
Late (metastatic) stages of breast cancer are the phase when the trauma has been spread to lymph nodes and other tissues.
Stage 3A is the local spread of the cancer in which melanoma spreads to size 5 cm with or without axillary lymph nodes with the network structure of tumor cells with surrounding tissues.
Stage 3B is when the tumor size is not definite but metastases and penetrates into the skin, chest wall and internal lymph nodes of mammary gland (present inside the chest below breast).
Stage 3C is the stage when sarcoma has been spread with greater metastases with involvement of lymph nodes. The tumor may be of any size.
Stage 4 is the tumor that has spread to the parts of the body like bones, lungs, liver, brain or distant lymph nodes.
Why the knowledge of breast cancer stages is helpful?
Different treatments have been developed to cure the cancer to protect and save the life of patient as soon as possible. The doctors say that sooner the patient comes sooner they try to chuck out this disease from him.
Sometimes surgery is carried out to remove cancer cells. Some lymph nodes are taken from the underarms to check out whether it is infected with the cancer cells, this process is called biopsy or lymph node dissection.
It is just a method to detect the infected cells.
Breast-conserving surgery is a sort of surgery to remove cancer cells but the breast is not removed. Lumpectomy is a surgery to remove tumor cells and tissues around. In another type of surgery, Partial or segmental mastectomy the infected part of breast and the tissues around are cut off.
Total mastectomy is the operation in which the whole breast is removed from the body because it has been so infected that it may affect other body organs and no treatment can cure it. Modified radical mastectomy is done when many of lymph nodes underarm, chest wall muscle have also been infected. In this case too breast is removed from the body.
Even after the removal of complete cancer part visible at the time of operation procedure, some other therapies are also conducted to remove the suspected cancer cells left into the body. These therapies include radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapy.
Sometimes after mastectomy when some part of breast that is infected is removed is surgically reshaped. The process is called breast reconstruction. In this case patient’s own tissues from any part other than breast are implanted filling with saline or silicone gel. All such facilities are FDA recommended.
Radiation therapy is the therapy in which cancer cells are killed by applying high energy x-rays onto the infected part. For external therapy x-ray device is placed outside the body while for internal therapy radioactive substance sealed in needle, wire, seed or catheter is placed directly near the infected site.
Chemotherapy is another traditional procedure of treatment in which drugs are given to the patient to stop the growth of cancer cells. Drugs can be administered orally, muscularly or through spinal cord depending on the stage of the disease.
Here is a good link to give more insight to different breast cancer stages.
In hormone therapy hormones are removed to block the growth of cancer cells. The hormone estrogen gives medium to cancer cells to grow produced from ovaries. Ovaries ablation is another therapy to stop the ovaries to make estrogen.
Targeted therapy is a method of killing cancer cell using drugs without harming normal uninfected tissues.
Other newer techniques are also being adopted due to their efficiency like sentinel lymph node biopsy followed by surgery in which the first infected lymph node is treated and operated out to save the rest part of the body from this infection. High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant is also conducted.
Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer Patients
Radiation therapy is one of the most effective and used type of treatment for breast cancer patients and in this treatment method, high energy rays or particles are used to destroy the cancer cells.
Radiation is given to the breast after the breast-conserving surgery so as to lower or reduce the chance that the cancer will reappear in the lymph node or in the breast.
In some cases of breast cancer, radiation is also used to treat the cancer which has spread to the nearby areas such as brain or the bones. There are two types of radiation therapy for breast cancer patients and their details have been given as follows
External Beam Radiation:
This method or radiation therapy is the most common types of treatment to treat patients suffering from breast cancer and in this, radiation is given through a machine which is placed outside the body of the area which is affected by cancer.
This form of radiation therapy is not given to the breast cancer patients until the tissues have healed up which takes about a month or longer.
Before the start of this treatment, the radiation team takes several measurements to determine the angles etc from which radiation is to be given. This procedure is painless and each session takes only a few minutes.
Brachytherapy (internal radiation):
This is the second form of radiation therapy and is a method in which radioactive pellets or seeds are placed into the breast tissue where the cancer is.
There are many factors such as size of the tumor or the location of the cancer which might decide whether the patient has to be given Brachytherapy or not. There many different types of Brachytherapy treatment methods and they are given as follows:
- Interstitial Brachytherapy: in this method of internal radiation therapy, many small and hollow tubes which are called catheters are inserted into the breast near the area where cancer is has been removed from. This is an old method of Brachytherapy and is not used a lot these days.
- Intracavity Brachytherapy: this is the most common type of Brachytherapy radiation therapy and is used more than the other methods. In this method, a device is inserted into the space which has been left from BCS and is left inside until the treatment procedure is completed. Some side effects of this method include redness, breast pain, bruising, breakdown of an area of fat tissue and even infection.
Though the life risk of breast cancer is 10% but the important is to have a life with quality rather than quantity. The war against breast cancer has increasing daily. Every person must go for regular checkups to avoid or detect breast cancer and thus avoiding any painful breast cancer treatments within early breast cacner stages.