Radiation therapy is a kind of treatment for cancer that uses special kind of high-energy beam to destroy cancerous cells. Some example of energy beams are x-rays or light. The mechanism that uses the radiation therapy is to destroy cancerous cell by destroying their DNA so their growth slows down or stops. Radiation other than cancerous cells affects even normal cells, damaging them.
Normal healthy cells are organized cells and if under radiation they are capable to repair themselves at a certain level and survive the treatment, while cancerous cells are less organized or not organized at all they are more easily killed by radiation.
There are two three of radiation treatment:
- External Radiation – Radiation from outside the body with a machine called a linear accelerator. This form of therapy is given for 5 days a week over 5-7 weeks and the doses are giving by your doctor. You don’t have to stay in a hospital during treatment you can go there only on days you have to receive treatment.
- Internal Radiation – Radiation from inside the body with pellets, or seeds of material that give off radiation beams. These seeds or pellet are placed in the area around where the cancer was emitting radiation into the surrounding tissue. Internal radiation is usually delivered using multiple small tubes or catheters. During treatment you will have to stay in the hospital because there is radio activity inside your body. As soon as the treatment stops, the radioactive seeds and tubes are removed and you can leave the treatment center. This treatment usually takes one week with 2 treatments each day.
- Intra-operative Radiation – These kind of radiation is given during lumpectomy surgery after the cancer has been removed. A single high dose of radiation is given in the same place where the breast cancer was. One method uses the linear accelerator to deliver the electron beam in the selected area, another method uses a small tube placed in the area where the breast cancer was. This kind of treatment is given only in certain hospitals because it is a relatively new technique with very expensive equipment.
Radiation therapy might be used for the breast area, lymph nodes, or another part of the body and generally is used after breast cancer surgery. It is important because it lowers the risk for breast cancer recurrence in the remaining breast tissue or in the lymph nodes. The surgeon can’t remove all cancerous cells during surgery because they are too small to be seen. If some cells are left after surgery they eventually form a new lump causing a recurrent breast cancer. Radiotherapy also assures a longer life for breast cancer patients, and to remain cancer free longer than patient who doesn’t receive it.
Radiation side effects:
- Skin reactions– The most uncomfortable side effect involves the skin of the area which received radiation beams. The skin will be like sunburn, red, itchy, burning and peeling. The skin might also be dry sore and sensitive to touch. The irritated skin should be treated carefully because might get infected and worsen the situation. The good news is that skin irritations from radiation therapy are only temporary and a week after ending treatment it will start to get better.
- Tiredness and Fatigue – During radiation therapy you might feel tired all the time without no specific cause and you may also lose interest in people and things you did in your everyday life. Some symptoms may be lack of energy, feeling sleepy, paying less attention for your appearance, trouble thinking speaking or concentrating.
- Nausea – feeling sick all the time increase the feeling of fatigue and tiredness worsening the situation.
These are the most common side effect a person with breast cancer might feel. You have to talk to your doctor about everything that is causing you discomfort and together choose the best way to resolve it. Also other side effects might happen to specific persons like: chest pain, heart problems, low white blood cell count, lung problems, etc. But these side effect depend on the general situation of the body even before the radiation treatment starts.
Contraindications for radiation therapy:
- When you already had radiation to a specific area of the body, you can’t repeat the treatment in the same area. You might get overexposed to radiation, so more than you body can handle.
- When pregnant because radiation can seriously risk your babies health or even life
- When having connective tissue disease like vasculities or scleroderma that makes you even more sensitive to radiation side effects.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer, women must often undergo extensive surgeries that may destroy some or all of the breast tissue, leaving them with misshapen or deformed breasts that require breast reconstructive surgery or prosthesis. These are generally considered cosmetic surgeries, and may not be covered by insurance, but nevertheless, the process of breast reconstruction is a popular one among those who have had some or all of their breast tissue removed. There are a couple of different ways that the breasts can be reconstructed after cancer, or after surgery to remove the cancer, but let’s start with the various surgeries that are performed to remove breast tissue in the first place.
Breast cancer surgery typically involves the physical removal of the tumor itself, as well as some of the tissue that surrounds it. Commonly, a sentinel lymph node biopsy is done as well. The sentinel lymph node is the one that the cancer is most likely to spread to, the biopsy is done to see if that has happened and how far advanced it is if so. The surgery that is done in very advanced stages, or where the doctor sees no other choice is the Mastectomy, which is the removal of the entire breast. Other surgeries include a Quadrantectomy, or removal of a quarter of the breast, and a Lumpectomy, where only a small portion of the breast is removed.
The first thing that you should be aware of is that breast reconstruction results vary widely, and although the procedure does attempt to restore the breast to the normal shape, size and appearance, this may not happen exactly how you want it to. Continue reading Breast Reconstruction
One of the most common treatments for breast cancer is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy, simply put, is chemical therapy, and it is a very effective medicine for weakening and destroying some of the cancer cells that are in the body. Chemotherapy not only targets cancerous cells that are at the original site of the breast cancer, whether that be in the lobules or another site in the body where the cancer has originated, but also targets cancer cells that have moved to other parts of the body, making it a great combination treatment with surgery, which removes as much of the cancerous growth as possible.
Combination of Drugs
Chemotherapy is not a particular drug, but is almost always a combination of several drugs. In fact, your doctor may try different combinations of drugs to slow the growth of the cancer or eliminate it from the body, because everyone reacts differently. There are actually more than fifty different chemotherapy drugs, which can result in thousands of combinations, and obviously, not only does each person have a slightly different reaction to the drug combination when it comes to treatment, but each person’s side effects are different as well. Some of the common chemotherapy drugs include cyclophosphamide, docetaxel, carboplatin, doxorubicin, and imatinib mesylate among many others. Continue reading Chemotherapy for breast cancer
Breast Cancer Screening is one of the most important things that a women can do, because most instances of breast cancer are preventable and treatable if the disease is caught in the early stages.
There are a couple of types of breast cancer screening, the first that you can do yourself at home, involves feeling the breasts for any lumps that may be present. The other type of breast cancer screening is the type that is conducted by your physician or by another medical professional. There are many places that offer breast cancer screenings, some even without cost.
The Self Breast Exam
The first thing about examining yourself for breast cancer is already being aware of your body. You should already know the size, shape and coloration of your breasts so that you can notice when there are any changes. Some of the common signs of breast cancer can include swelling of the breast and a red color, as well as dimpling and puckering or a rash present. Other signs might include a watery discharge from the nipple that is milky, yellow or bloody. Next, feel the breasts for any abnormalities. Do this exam lying down, and use your fingertip pads to feel for any lumps, or anything that shouldn’t be there. Continue reading Breast Cancer Screening
Breast cancer is caused by changes in DNA, which will then allow normal cells to mutate into cancer cells. Some of these changes are caused by genetics and sometimes they just happen. Most of the time, the DNA changes that occur are single breast cells changing throughout the lifetime of the person who will get cancer. Researchers do not know what most of the DNA mutations that lead to cancer are yet. Probably the breast cancer is caused by interaction of genetic makeup and environmental factors However, there are some risk factors that have been identified by doctors and researchers through the years, and more are being discovered all the time.
Risk Factors for Breast Cancer
While the exact causes of breast cancer may not yet be known, there are some trends that have been identified, such as people that engage in certain behaviors, are a certain age, race or have a family history of breast or other types of cancers, and these trends have given doctors some tools to help minimize the chances of breast cancers with their patients. Some risk factors cannot be changed, and some are behaviors that can. It is obviously recommended that you do not engage in behaviors that are identified as risk factors, even if you have other risk factors that cannot be changed.
Unchangeable Risk Factors
Gender is one of the unchangeable risk factors in breast cancer. The fact is that while men do occasionally get breast cancer, the chances are much higher for women getting it. In fact, women get breast cancer one hundred times more often than men do.
Age is another factor that can influence whether or not someone gets breast cancer, with two thirds of cases, especially invasive breast cancer, in women that are older than fifty-five. Continue reading Breast Cancer Risk Factors
The rates of breast cancer vary widely in different parts of the country and the world, and can vary among patients of different ages and races as well. There is also a huge difference in breast cancer rates between genders, with women being one hundred times more likely to get breast cancer than men. As for 2011, estimates of more than 225,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed. There will be more than 57,000 cases of in situ breast cancer, which is both ductal carcinoma in situ breast cancer and lobular carcinoma in situ. Out of those cancer cases, there will be almost 40,000 deaths this year from the disease.
As stated, breast cancer is much more rare in men than it is in women. However, the statistics for men are still up there, with more than 2000 cases of breast cancer diagnosed in men, with 450 of them resulting in death. The rates of breast cancer among men are much lower than with women, including cases of primary breast cancer, and a new cancer found in men that have already had it. Neither of the statistics that are listed here include an emergence of the same breast cancer that was already present. The mortality rate in men is lower as well.
Breast Cancer Rates by State
According to statistics taken from the years 2003 to 2007 from women, breast cancer varies a little bit by state, but with no real stand outs. The USA state with the highest rate of breast cancer in women from these years was the District of Columbia, with 139 cases per 100,000 women. Continue reading Breast Cancer Statistics
One of the scariest forms of breast cancer is Metastatic Breast Cancer, which is a form of cancer that is aggressive in expanding to other parts of the body. It is not so much a form of breast cancer, as it is a complication of breast cancer. Metastatic breast cancer is more serious than the other forms of cancer, and treatment is usually more to slow the spread of the cancer than to cure, as the prognosis is usually poor on cancer that has metastasized. This type of cancer will spread to areas like the liver, brain, lungs and nearby lymph nodes. The most common part of the body that it attacks is the bone.
Symptoms of Metastatic Breast Cancer
The symptoms that someone with this type of cancer experience depend a lot upon where the cancer has spread. For example, if the cancer has spread to the bone, the patient will have severe pain and sometimes bone fractures, as well as swelling and erythema. If the cancer has spread to the brain, the sufferer will begin to get progressively worse headaches, as well as seizures, vomiting and changes of behavior and personality as the brain is changed by the cancer. Continue reading Metastatic Breast Cancer
A rare type of breast cancer is known as inflammatory breast cancer, often abbreviated IBC, and it is a very aggressive form of cancer, which metastasizes quickly, and presents with symptoms that include redness and swelling around the breast area, as well as a feeling of warmth. Those that have been diagnosed with IBC should enroll in the latest clinical trials, as some of the medicines being tested have had some success and it is important to slow down the spread of cancer as quickly as possible. Of course, you should also follow the recommendation of your doctor and any treatments that he or she prescribes as well.
What Exactly is IBC?
In inflammatory breast cancer, the cancerous cells block the lymph vessels. IBS starts with one cancerous cell in one of the breast ducts and with the changes of its DNA it duplicates quickly.
The grown number of abnormal breast cells accumulate and clog the lymphatic vessels and than all the symptoms start to appear. The reason that this type of cancer is named ‘inflammatory’ is because of the appearance of the area, which looks red, irritated and inflamed. Around twenty percent of breast cancer cases in the United States are of inflammatory breast cancer and often occurs more in African-American women, and occurs in younger age than other types of cancer. Men do sometimes get IBC, but generally only at a much older age than women. Researchers have found links to family history and IBC.
How Do You Know if You Have IBC?
Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer will usually include a redness and inflammation around the breast, as well as the warmth discussed earlier. However, it may also present with a lump, but this should not be relied upon, as many cases do not have a lump present. The cancer cells will block the lymph vessels and this is what causes the inflammation. Continue reading Inflammatory Breast Cancer
While most people think of breast cancer, they automatically associate it with females. While the condition is almost always found in women, there are a few thousand men a year that get breast cancer, and it can be as serious or more than it is for women.
Characteristics of Male Breast Cancer
As it happens for females, male breast cancer is influenced by both environmental factors and also genetic factors. However, there is a greater risk, because men are not routinely checked for breast cancer and may be at a more advanced stage. Also, male breast cancer is often characterized by positive lymph nodes. The most common characteristic is a palpable breast mass. Also, men are much more likely to present with nipple discharge than women are.
Risk Factors for Breast Cancer in Men
Age: The risk of breast cancer increases the older a person is. On average, if a man does have breast cancer, it will be in his late sixties.
Family History or Gene Mutations: Men that have a family history of breast cancer Continue reading Male Breast Cancer
There is no exact way to ensure that you can prevent breast cancer, but there are several ways that you can minimize the chances of getting it, and more importantly, increase the chance of it being treated in time for you to get the best chance for a full recovery and not have the cancer return. There are a few ways in which you can lower your risk factors for breast cancer, mainly having to do with the foods you eat, the beverages that you drink, and your lifestyle in general. A few other ways to minimize risk that may surprise you how simple they really are.
However, the most important thing that you can do to prevent breast cancer from becoming a problem, and that is by getting regular checkups from your doctor, specifically for breast cancer. This is because patients whose breast cancer is in its preliminary stages have a hundred percent survival rate, based upon a five year tracking study. While some of the earlier stages are also very survivable, the best way to completely prevent breast cancer is to be checked regularly. There are a few other things that you can do as well.
- If you have a family history with breast cancer, you should ask your doctor what risks do you have of getting it too. Vary important are regular checkups for early detection.
- Drink a minimal amount of alcohol. Continue reading Breast Cancer Prevention