Thanks to the advancements in breast cancer treatment. Breast cancer is one of the most treatable cancers today.
Gone are those days, when the doctor would tell a woman with breast cancer that a radical mastectomy is the only option — a disfiguring operation that removed the breast, lymph nodes in the chest and armpit, and chest muscles. Gone are those days when Chemotherapy or radiation treatments often prolonged the ordeal.
Today’s breast cancer patients may have a range of treatment options.
Our network hospitals in India treat thousands of International cancer patients every day.
Aarti’s tests revealed her cancer before it spread beyond the milk duct. So she had a lumpectomy, which saved her breast.
Bianca had chemotherapy before surgery to shrink her tumor.
Susan’s surgeon removed the tumor and only the sentinel lymph node, the first node into which the fluid from the tumor drains. Since it held no cancer cells, additional nodes were left intact. This reduced her risk of lymphedema, an uncomfortable swelling of the arm that can occur when many lymph nodes are removed.
What factors determine the treatment of breast cancer?
|The Breast cancer itself||The patient|
|Its size and shape (whether it has spread)||Patient’s age|
|The grade of the cancer cell||Whether she has achieved menopause|
|Whether it is hormone responsive or expresses HER2 receptors||Her general health and personal preferences for treatment|
What treatments are included in breast cancer?
Breast cancer treatment would include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy depending on the stage of the disease. Early detection can lead to curing of the disease.
What are the types of breast cancer surgeries? And why are they performed?
The types of breast cancer surgeries are:
|Lumpectomy (or wide local excision)||Mastectomy (Removal of the affected breast)|
|This is a current organ preservation surgery and is often suggested if the tumor is not too big
|This is a type of surgery where just the tumor and some surrounding breast tissue are removed. This is generally followed by radiotherapy with an aim to kill any cancer cells left in the breast tissue.
|This may be necessary if there is a large tumor or a tumor in the middle of the breast.
It is often possible to have breast reconstruction surgery to create a new breast following a mastectomy
Breast reconstruction surgery can be done at the same time as the mastectomy or even later
- Surgeries are done to remove one or more lymph nodes in the armpit. These lymph nodes are where the breast cancer generally first spreads to. These removed lymph nodes are examined under the microscope to see if they contain any cancer cells.
- Alternatively, a sentinel lymph node biopsy may be performed. This is a way of assessing if the main lymph nodes draining the breast contain cancer. If they are clear then the remaining lymph nodes in the armpit need not be removed
What is radiation therapy and how is used in breast cancer?
- Radiation therapy is a treatment which uses high-energy beams of radiation focused on killing cancer cells or stopping them from multiplying. For breast cancer, radiotherapy is mainly used in addition to surgery.
- New techniques for radiotherapy are currently in use. These techniques reduce the toxicity and shorten the treatment cycle.
Is Chemotherapy needed for all women with breast cancer?
Not all women with breast cancer will need chemo, but there are several situations in which chemo may be recommended:
- Post breast cancer surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy):
Adjuvant chemo is used after surgery to try to kill any cancer cells that may have been left behind or spread but can’t be seen, even on imaging tests. If these cells were allowed to grow, they could form new tumors in other places in the body. Adjuvant chemo can reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back.
- Before surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy):
Neoadjuvant chemo is given before surgery. It can be used to try to shrink the tumor so that it can be removed with less extensive surgery. Because of this, neoadjuvant chemo is often used to treat cancers that are too big to be removed at the time of diagnosis (called locally advanced cancers). Also, by giving chemo before the tumor is removed, doctors can better see how the cancer responds to it. If the first set of chemo drugs doesn’t shrink the tumor, your doctor will know that other drugs are needed.
- For advanced breast cancer:
Chemo can be used as the main treatment for women whose cancer has spread outside the breast and underarm area, either when it is diagnosed or after initial treatments. The length of treatment depends on how well the chemo is working and how well you tolerate it.
What is Hormone treatment in breast cancer?
- Some types of breast cancer are affected by the female hormone oestrogen (and sometimes progesterone)
- These hormones stimulate the cancer cells to divide and multiply
- Treatments which reduce the level of these hormones or prevent them from working are commonly used in people with breast cancer
- This hormone treatment works best in women with ‘hormone responsive’ breast cancer
Hormone treatment includes:
- Oestrogen blockers
- Tamoxifen has been available for many years and is still widely used
- It works by blocking the oestrogen from working on cells. It is usually taken for five years
- Aromatase inhibitors
- These are drugs which work by blocking the production of oestrogen in body tissues
- They are used in women who have gone through menopause
- GnRH (Gonadotrophin Releasing Hormone) analogues
- These drugs work by greatly reducing the amount of oestrogen that the ovaries produce
- They are usually injected and may be used for women who have not yet reached menopause
If you are looking for breast cancer treatment in India, Medi Bridge India can help you. Right from finding the doctors, medical estimates, hospitals’ accreditation, physicians’ credentials, and patients’ references to air travel details, accommodations, airport pickups and drop-offs, Medi Bridge India offers a one-stop medical travel facilitation services.
We work with you, your companion, and your family, to incorporate your treatment needs, budget, and lifestyle preferences into a single package customized to result in the most healthy, comfortable experience possible.
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Our Partner Network of Hospitals in India providing cancer treatment
- Apollo Group of Hospitals
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- Narayana Healthcare
- Manipal Health
- HCG Cancer Hospital