Breast cancer refers to a malignant tumor that has formed from cells in the breast. It usually starts in the cells of the lobules or the ducts. The lobules are milk-producing glands and ducts are passages where milk travels from lobules to nipple. This type of cancer is always caused by genetic abnormality, but only 5-10% of them are inherited from a mother or father. The other 90% of breast cancers are caused by the abnormalities from aging and the process of life in general.
While there are several steps to keep your body as healthy as possible, breast cancer cannot be helped or is anyone’s fault. There are treatments for every type and stage of breast cancer. Most patients will have surgery and an additional therapy such as chemotherapy or radiation.
In the last few years, there have been so many life-saving treatment advances against breast cancer. Instead of only one or two options, there are now many treatments choices for each individual patient with cancer.
1. Surgery. Most patients will have surgery to remove the cancer. Some of the lymph nodes under the arm are taken out. Breast-conserving surgery removes the cancer but not the breast. This type of surgery includes lumpectomy (removal of the tumor and a small amount of tissue around it) and partial mastectomy (removal of part of the breast that has cancer and some tissue surrounding it). Other types of surgery include: total mastectomy, modified mastectomy and radical mastectomy.
2. Radiation therapy. This treatment uses high-energy x-rays or radiation to kill the cancer cells or stop them from growing. The two types of this therapy are external and internal radiation. The way radiation is administered is based on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
3. Chemotherapy. This treatment uses drugs to stop the cancer cells from growing. This is taken either my mouth or given by injection into a muscle or vein. The way chemotherapy is given is also determined by the type and stage of the cancer.
4. Hormone therapy. This treatment removes hormones or stops their action and stops cancer cells from growing. Hormones are produced by the body’s glands and circulated throughout the blood stream. Some hormones cause certain cancers to grow. There are tests that will show where hormones will attach to drugs or radiation and then drugs are used to stop or slow production.