Breast Cancer Treatment
Once positive diagnosis is established, patient needs to take further examinations to find out the stadium and invasion of the cancer. Some examinations to be taken are MRI, CT scan, chest X-Ray, and bone scan to check the cancer invasion to the bone as well as biopsy of the underarm lymph node.
In the event of cancer invasion, sentinel lymph node will be the first lymph gland affected. It may happen in various locations. Therefore, identification using the combination of radioactive isotopes and blueprint needs to be conducted.
Treatment: breast cancer can be treated with combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. In some cases, breast cancer can be treated with biological or hormone therapy. Support from others (particularly friends and family) is important during the treatment and recovery process.
Surgery. Surgery conducted to the patient may vary depending on the type of cancer. There are two types of surgery namely surgery to remove the tumor (lumpectomy) and surgery to remove the entire breast (mastectomy). In lumpectomy, the shape of the breast is maintained to be as whole as possible. This surgery is recommended for a small-sized tumor. It only removes the tumor and some of the surrounding normal tissue. Whereas mastectomy is a surgery to remove the entire breast tissue, including the nipple.
Patient may undergo mastectomy and sentinel lymph node biopsy at the same time when there is indication of cancer invasion to the lymph gland. On the contrary, if cancer has spread to the underarm lymph gland, patient is advised to undergo surgery to remove such gland followed by reconstructive plastic surgery to return the shape of the breast.
The reconstructive plastic surgery can be conducted through two ways namely direct reconstructive plastic surgery conducted simultaneously with mastectomy and periodical reconstructive plastic surgery conducted some time after mastectomy.
Chemotherapy. A therapy using drugs, usually injected to the patient in order to kill cancerous cells by hindering their reproduction. Generally, there are two types of chemotherapy namely chemotherapy to destroy the remaining cancerous cells after surgery and chemotherapy to shrink the tumor prior to surgery.
Radiotherapy. A therapy aimed to destroy the remaining cancerous cells using controlled radiation dose. It is administered a month after the body recovers from surgery and undergoes chemotherapy. However, not every breast cancer patient needs radiotherapy. Similar to chemotherapy, this procedure also has side effects such as skin irritation which may further lead to burning sensation, reddish, and blistering breast skin, change in skin tone, fatigue, as well as lymphedema (swelling appears on the arms due to underarm lymphatic system blockage).
Hormone therapy. To reduce the risk of cancer or inhibit the impacts of hormones causing the condition. Hormone therapy is usually conducted following the surgery and chemotherapy. However, in some cases it is conducted prior to the surgery to shrink the tumor so it can be removed easily. This therapy may serve as alternative single medication if the patient is not in prime health condition or incapable of undergoing surgery, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy. The medication side effects resemble those of menopause such as emotional changes, sleep problems, and burning sensation accompanied by fast heartbeat.