By Dr. Ashok Mehta, Surgical Oncology
Breast cancer is characterized by an abnormal multiplication of cells in the tissues of the breast. The disease is the second most common cancer in women, and mostly affects women in the age group 55-65. However, the disease may occur in men as well.
The exact cause of breast cancer is not known as of now. Some of the factors that influence multiplication of cells are your genes and the environment. Other factors such as late menopause, being subjected to hormone therapy post-menopause and dense breast tissues can be other triggers for this disease.
The symptoms of breast cancer are:
- Discharge from your nipples
- Swelling in the breast
- You may have a lump in your armpits
- The skin around the breast may become flaky
- The skin around the breast may be irritated
The treatment depends on the size, grade and stage of the breast cancer. The sensitivity of the cancerous cells to the hormones in the body is also considered in this regard. The various treatment methods are:
- Surgery: There are multiple types of surgeries which may be used to treat breast cancer. In some cases, only a small area of the breast may be removed if the size of the tumour is small. Sometimes, mastectomy is performed where the entire breast tissue has to be removed.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a type of treatment in which the cancerous cells are targeted by using certain drugs which are injected in to the body. However, chemotherapy has its own share of side effects such as hair loss, sudden and drastic weight loss and persistent fatigue.
- Radiation Therapy: This procedure involves using radiations such as x-rays to destroy cancer cells in the body. This procedure is carried out with the help of a machine that focuses radiation on the affected areas of the body.