Managing breast cancer usually takes different approaches depending on the physical and biological characteristics of the disease, the patient’s age, and the overall well-being of the patient.
Whenever a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, it is important for the doctor or personnel attending to her at the moment to advise her on the best way to manage the disease either through the best and appropriate treatment options available or through various preventive methods.
What Treatment Options are Available for Breast Cancer?
The treatment options available to breast cancer patients are mostly affected by personal preferences and other information about breast cancer, and these include:
The treatment options for breast cancer that are available include:
Most often, these cancers are treated with Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (before surgery). This help to shrink the tumor enough for a woman to have breast-conserving surgery (BCS). If the tumor doesn’t shrink enough, a mastectomy is done.
This is the use of operations to treat breast cancer. It is the removal of tumors found in the breast, and also some surrounding healthy cells during an operation. There are different types of surgical operations used for breast cancer.
This is the use of high-powered energy and other particles to kill cancer cells in the body. It is typically done using a large machine that aims energy beams toward the cancer location at the body (external beam radiation). Also, it can be done inside the body by placing radioactive materials inside the body i.e., brachytherapy.
It can be done before the use of surgery to shrink the tumors or after surgery. It is usually used at stages I, II, and III.
This is the use of drugs to destroy cancerous cells from growing, dividing, and creating more harmful cells. It is sometimes given before surgery to shrink larger tumors and make surgery easier, and also after surgery to decrease the chances of cancer reoccurring. It is usually used at stages I, II, III, and IV.
This is also called endocrine therapy. It is a hormone-blocking therapy used to treat breast cancer that is quite sensitive to hormones either estrogen or progesterone receptors. It can be used before or after surgery or other breast cancer treatments so to decrease the chance of reoccurring cancer.
Once cancer has already spread, hormonal therapy may help to shrink and control it. It can be used when breast cancer is at Stages I, II, III, and IV.
This is a breast cancer treatment that targets specific abnormalities, proteins, or tissue environment within the cancer cells contributing to the survival and growth of cancer. This treatment is different from chemotherapy, blocking the growth and spread of cancer cells, and limiting its damage to healthy cells. It can be used when breast cancer is at Stages I, II, III, and IV.
This is the use of the body’s natural immune system to fight cancer by improving the immune system’s ability to attack cancer cells. The body's disease-fighting immune system may not attack cancer because the cancer cells produce proteins that blind the immune system cells but immunotherapy works by interfering with that process. It can be used when breast cancer is at Stages II, III, and IV.
Breast Cancer III: Prevention of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer prevention is an action taken to lower the chance of getting breast cancer. By preventing breast cancer, new cases would drastically reduce the entire world population and also lower the number of fatalities caused by breast cancer.
Breast cancer can be prevented through primary and secondary preventive measures.
Primary Form of Prevention
These are the various risk factors associated with breast cancer and the recommended solution to help prevent them.
Age: Old age is the main risk for breast cancer among women. Although getting older is an uncontrollable factor for every woman, the chances of getting breast cancer increase as a woman grows older most especially from the ages of 50 and above. Recommendation – Screening. This is the most important way in preventing breast cancer. It is recommended as women get their breasts screened regularly, especially between the ages of 40 – 80.
Family History or Inherited Risk of Breast Cancer: Women with a family history of a first–degree relative (mother, sister) who had breast cancer, have an increased risk of having breast cancer. This sometimes occurs when cancer had occurred before their menopause. Recommendation – Screening. This is the most important way in preventing breast cancer. It is recommended as women get their breasts screened regularly, especially between the ages of 40 – 80.
Exposure of Breast Tissue to Estrogen Made in The Body: Estrogen is a hormone made by the body. It helps the body develop and maintain female sex characteristics. Being exposed to estrogen over a long time may increase the risk of breast cancer. Estrogen levels are highest during the years a woman is menstruating, has never given birth, or had one’s first child at an older age. Because estrogen levels are lower during pregnancy, breast tissue is exposed to more estrogen in women who become pregnant for the first time after age 35 or who never become pregnant.
Recommendation – early pregnancy. Estrogen levels are lower during pregnancy. Women who have a full-term pregnancy before age 20 have a lower risk of breast cancer than women who have not had children or who give birth to their first child after age 35. Also, breastfeeding helps to lower the level of estrogen in the body.
Obesity: Obesity increases the risk of breast cancer, especially in postmenopausal women who have not used hormone replacement therapy. Recommendation – weight control and exercise. Losing or controlling one’s weight with regular exercise can help lower the risk of breast cancer.
Alcohol: Regular drinking especially more than one drink a day increases the risk of breast cancer. Recommendation - Limit or Skip Alcohol. It is highly recommended that women should have no more than 1 alcoholic drink a day to reduce the risk of having breast cancer.
Secondary Form of Prevention
In preventing breast cancer among women, getting screened for breast cancer helps to detect if there is a presence of cancerous cells in the breast. This would help the judgment of the patient to seek treatment early, and prevent death from such disease.