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Breast cancer is a form of cancer which develops from the breast tissue. Breast cancer is indicated by signs such as a lump in the breast, changes in breast shape, fluid flowing from the nipple, dimpling of skin, or the development of red scaly patches. Breast cancer is a fatal form of cancer in women and immediate diagnosis is required on observing the symptoms.
Diagnosis of breast cancer
Other than the regular breast screening, the diagnosis of breast cancer involves the following steps and methods:
- Seeing your general practitioner (GP): It is very important to visit your GP soon after noticing the symptoms of breast cancer. Your GP will examine you properly and in case your symptoms need more assessment, he/she will refer you to a breast cancer clinic.
- Mammogram and breast ultrasound: You will be required to have a mammogram, as recommended by a specialist breast unit. This is an X-ray of the breasts. An ultrasound scan may also be required. Breast ultrasound should be undertaken only if you are less than 35 years of age. This is because, young women have denser breasts and a mammogram is not as effective as ultrasound in the diagnosis of breast cancer. In ultrasound, high frequency sound waves are used for obtaining an image of your breasts. It is observed to notice any abnormality or lumps. A breast ultrasound is also important for determining whether a lump is solid or contains liquid.
- Biopsy: In this diagnosis process, a sample of the tissue cells is taken from the breasts and tested under a microscope to find out if it is cancerous. A scan and needle test for the lymph nodes present in your armpit is also done to check whether they have also been affected. A biopsy is undertaken in several ways, depending upon the condition and severity. A needle aspiration biopsy is used for testing a sample of your breast cells without the removal of the tissues. This is the most common form of biopsy and it is also used for draining a small fluid-filled lump or benign cyst. During the process, you will be given a local anesthetic. Usually, a needle biopsy is carried out guided by an X-ray, ultrasound and an MRI scan as well. This helps in distinguishing it from non-invasive changes such as ductal carcinoma in situ.
Another form of biopsy used for the diagnosis of breast cancer is called vacuum assisted biopsy or mammotome biopsy. In this process, a needle gets attached to a suction tube, which helps in obtaining the sample and for clearing the bleeding.
Can disc stenosis be cured permanently? And can the compressed disc become as it was earlier with Pranayam?
I was having Slip Disc problem in year 2005 and was confined on bed for 35 days. MRI reports revealed problem in L5 S 1 area. Doctors advised me not to sit on ground and sleep sideways by bending both the knees and keeping pillow in between them. Although I do not have that pain again but Now my body has become very stiff, I can not bend my knees and having very poor flexibility what should I do.
Of all cancer types that affect the female population, breast cancer is the most common one. Statistics show that above 1 in 8 women in the USA are likely to develop breast cancer (invasive type, which is often severe). Changing lifestyles including prolonged use of birth control, smoking, alcohol abuse, lack of physical activity, dietary changes, etc., have led to an increased incidence. As these are here to stay, the only way is to prevent.
The likelihood of developing breast cancer is determined by risk factors. Some of these risk factors cannot be changed. For instance, age, ethnicity, and history of familial breast cancer. However, there are others, which can be acted upon or modified to reduce the chances of developing breast cancer.
Some of the preventable risk factors are as follows:
- Nicotine abuse: Quitting smoking has multiple benefits for a woman, and one major benefit is the reduced risk of developing breast cancer. Other benefits include reduced incidence of diabetes, heart disease, and other cancers.
- Hormone replacement therapy: To the extent possible, avoid prolonged use of birth control pills or hormones for other treatment purposes. In addition to using non-hormonal methods, if not avoidable, constantly monitoring hormone levels is very important. Birth control pills should especially be avoided by women over 35 years of age who smoke. The risk associated with developing cancer reduces as soon as the hormone supplement is stopped.
- Weight Management: One of the major risk factors is obesity, and in people with other non-alterable risk factors, it is best to work on weight management from an early age. Talk to your doctor about your ideal BMI and ensure this is maintained.
- Physical Activity: Regular physical activity, at least 30 minutes per day, in addition to strength training will help in keeping the body agile and managing weight. It also reduces the risk of breast cancer.
- Breastfeeding: Studies have shown that breastfeeding has protective effect against breast cancer; longer a baby is breast fed, greater is the protective benefit.
- Screening: Even if not completely preventable, early detection of breast cancer is very important. This will help in less severe treatment and better prognosis. Recommended ages for mammography are as follows:
- In the age of 40 to 44, an annual mammogram is advised along with a discussion with the doctor on the risks.
- An annual mammogram for all women in the age of 45 – 54 is important as most women enter menopause by this time. This needs to be continued annually, as self-breast exams alone cannot detect cancer, thus it is a good practice and anything abnormal will not go undetected.
- These will help reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, help in early detection, and improve prognosis.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
What is Bone cancer?
Bone cancer is malignant tumour of the bones which can spread to lungs or other parts of the body. It may have arisen primarily from the bone itself (primary bone cancer) or more commonly, may have spread to the bones (secondary bone cancer) from cancer of some other body organ like Breast cancer, Prostate cancer etc.
Primary bone cancer usually occurs in growing children and young adolescents, whereas, secondary bone cancer usually occurs in older age group. Usually, the patient experiences pain in the affected area, which over the time, gets worse and continuous. There may also be swelling in the involved region. It can cause weakening of bones resulting in fracture. Some patients may attribute these symptoms to any prior antecedent trauma. Unintentional weight loss may also be seen. Sometimes, these patients are wrongly being treated for infection, thus delaying the correct treatment which may have a bearing on the final outcome.
How common is bone cancer?
Secondary bone cancer is the most common type of bone cancer with bone being the third most common site of cancer spread (metastasis) from other organs. However, primary bone cancers are rare accounting for less than 1% of all cancers.
Causes of bone cancer?
There are no known environmental or other hereditary factors which cause bone cancer, however, certain patients are at a greater risk for bone cancer which include:
- Patients who have received prior radiation therapy
- Patients with a history of Paget’s Disease
- Patients with hereditary retinoblastoma - a type of eye cancer that most commonly affects very young children
- Patients with Li-Fraumeni syndrome - a rare genetic condition
How is it diagnosed?
A patient suspected with bone cancer needs to be investigated thoroughly with blood tests, Xrays, MRI to look for local extent of disease. Since bone cancer can spread to lungs and other bones, staging of the disease is done either with whole body PET CT or a bone scan with CT Chest. Alongwith that, a biopsy (usually with a needle) is required to establish the diagnosis. It’s important to do biopsy from the correct site since wrong biopsy site can be detrimental in limb salvage and can result in amputation (cutting the limb). Therefore, it’s recommended that the biopsy should always be done by the surgeon (Orthopaedic Oncologist) who will be doing the final surgery for bone cancer.
Treatment of bone cancer is a multidisciplinary approach requiring an Orthopaedic Oncologist (Bone & Soft tissue tumour specialist), Medical Oncologist (Chemotherapy Specialist), Radiation Oncologist (Radiotherapy specialist) and Pathologist (Specialist in tissue diagnosis).
Usually in primary bone cancers, chemotherapy is given to the patient followed by surgery to remove the diseased bone which is further followed by adjuvant chemotherapy. Limb salvage surgery is possible nowadays for bone cancers in which the part of the bone involved with tumour is removed surgically (rather than cutting the whole limb) and the defect is reconstructed with artificial joint, thereby saving the limb. In some cases, the cancerous bone so removed is given very high dose of radiation so as to kill all the cancer cells and the sterilised bone so formed is fixed back to the parent bone with the help of plates and screws, a technique commonly called as Extra Corporeal Radiation Therapy (ECRT). In children, since the artificial joint will not grow as the child grows leading to unequal limb lengths over a period of time, the defect can be reconstructed with expandable joint which can be lengthened as the child grows which allows to maintain limb length equality at the time of skeletal maturity.
Is cure possible in bone cancer?
With the current chemotherapy regimes and advanced surgical technology, cure is possible in upto 70-75% patients with primary bone cancer. In patients with secondary bone cancer, cure can still be achieved depending upon the primary cancer and the extent of disease. In advanced cases also, a lot can be done to control the disease and give a quality of life to the patient.
Is it possible to prevent bone cancer?
Since the exact cause of bone cancer is not known, as of now it’s not possible to prevent bone cancer.
Whom to consult?
First chance is the best chance when it comes to curing bone cancers. So, it’s advisable to seek treatment from a trained Orthopaedic Oncologist when confronted with a bone cancer to achieve maximum beneficial outcome.
Level 2 scan at 18 weeks 5 days showed decreased blood flow in right artery. Other artery was normal. Everything else was normal. Is it a concern.
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women about 1 in 8 women in the USA develop invasive breast cancer. The incidence of breast cancer has increased with changes in lifestyle including smoking, drinking and loss of physical activity. The risk factors are age, ethnicity and family history cannot be changed. However, there are some risk factors that can definitely be acted upon to reduce the chances of developing breast cancer.
- Weight management: Obesity is one of the major risk factors for breast cancer and managing weight and a good body mass index will help reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. This is especially important in women undergoing menopause.
- Reducing smoking: The benefits of quitting it are manifold and reducing the risk for breast cancer is one of them. This will, as a byproduct, also result in a host of other benefits including improved quality of life, reduced chances of heart disease, stroke, and other cancers.
- Physical activity: In addition to helping in weight management, this also helps reduce the risk of breast cancer. Ideal recommendation is 30 minutes of physical activity per day, plus strength training.
- Breastfeeding: This helps in reducing the risk of breast cancer. Prolonged feeding is shown to have a greater protective benefit.
- Hormone replacement therapy: When possible, limit the use of hormone replacement therapy for prolonged periods of time. Explore options of non-hormonal substitutes or use the least permissible or required dose. Be sure to get periodic check-ups when on hormone therapy.
- Reduce exposure to environmental pollution: Higher levels of pollutants are linked to a higher incidence of breast cancer. When possible, avoid getting exposure to environmental pollutants.
- Screening: If there is a strong family history or other risk factors, then screening can help detect breast cancer very early in the process. Recommended ages for mammography are as follows:
- If you are age 40 – 44: Go for annual mammograms after discussing risks and benefits with the doctor.
- If you are age 45 – 54: Go for annual mammogram.
- If you are age 55 or over: Mammograms are recommended every other year. You can choose to continue to have them every year. Self-breast exams are not sufficient. However, if being done, they can also be an input to an abnormality.
- Cautious use of birth control pills: Birth control pill usage to be discussed with your gynaecologist if you are above 35 years of age and smoke. The good news is that the risk associated with it disappears slowly after the pill is stopped.
These will help reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, early detection, and improved prognosis.
We have more than 200 bones in our body and each of them is susceptible to bone cancer. However, long bones in the arms and legs are most susceptible to this condition. Bone cancer can be primary or secondary. Primary bone cancer involves uncontrolled and abnormal cell division within the bones while secondary bone cancer refers to cancer that originated somewhere else in the body and later spread to the bones. While children and adults are equally at risk for primary bone cancer, adults and elderly people are more susceptible to secondary bone cancer. If diagnosed early enough, bone cancer can be treated and even cured with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.
Hence it is essential to recognize the signs and symptoms of bone cancer. Here’s what you should look out for.
- Pain in Bones: Pain is one the primary symptoms of bone cancer. As the tumour grows larger, this pain can become more intense. In its early stages, the pain may be experienced as a dull ache inside the bone or the affected part of the body. It may also increase or decrease according to your activity level or may be experienced only at night. However, not all bone pains signify ‘cancer’ as this is also a symptom associated with osteoporosis.
- Swelling: In some cases, the abnormal growth of bone cells can result in the formation of a lump of mass that may be felt through the skin. In other cases, the affected area may also show signs of swelling.
- Breaking of the Bone: Cancer can weaken the bones and make them more brittle. This may make the bones more susceptible to fractures. A bone breaking in an area that has been painful or sore for a long period of time may be a sign of cancer. This is known as a pathologic fracture.
- Reduced Flexibility: If the tumour is located near a joint, it may affect the range of movements possible and make simple actions uncomfortable. For example, a tumour around the knee may make walking and climbing stairs a painful exercise.
Other symptoms to look out for are sudden and drastic weight loss, tiredness, excessive sweating at night, fever and difficulty breathing in case cancer has spread to other organs. Since many of these symptoms are common to other medical disorders, you should conduct a doctor immediately if you notice any of them. A physical examination and a couple of tests along with a biopsy will be required to confirm a diagnosis of bone cancer.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
I am suffering from sciatica for the last 6 months. Tried back exercises and muscle relaxants. The condition is due to L4/L5 disc herniation. Kindly advice.
Breast cancer is usually genetic in nature and it may affect women whose mother or grandmother may have suffered from the disease. This disease may start from the inner portion of the milk duct, in which case it is called ductal carcinoma. In case the cancer initiated through the lobules, it is called lobular carcinoma. In order to find the existence of the disease on a timely basis, it is imperative to get regular screening done. This can also prevent the disease and its spread. Read on to find out more about symptoms and breast cancer screening methods.
There are many symptoms of breast cancer, which can point at the existence of the same. Therefore, it is imperative to be vigilant and take note of such changes and symptoms so that the disease may be tackled on time. Persistent and unexplained pain in and around the breasts is one of the major symptoms that one should not ignore. Also, dimpling and the formation of new lumps under the armpits are other changes that should be reported to the doctor for more advanced screening. Further, irritation and redness in the area which does not go away after the onset of periods and remains for many weeks, should be checked. Bleeding, swelling and pulling of the nipple area can also point at the existence of breast cancer.
How screeing can be done?
The doctor will, first of all, carry out a physical examination. This is due to the fact that breast cancer is not a mere existence of the lump. The various changes in the breasts as discussed above, especially dimpling of the breasts and pulling of the nipples, can point at the beginning of the disease, which must be tackled so as to prevent the full-fledged onset of the same. During this kind of clinical breast exam, the doctor will also show the patient how to conduct the test on her own every few weeks.
This is essentially an X-Ray of the breasts and is usually carried out for women who have been facing consistent symptoms or even for those who are going through menopause. This kind of a test should not be done too frequently as it can expose the patient to the risk of breast cancer, in case she does not already have the problem. This test is usually carried out with the help of a mammogram machine that will give a reading once the breasts are placed on the metal plates.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test seeks to create pictures of the area of the body in question with the help of radio waves. This is usually conducted for those patients who already run a high risk of breast cancer due to a family history of the same. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an IVF Specialist.