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Medical science constantly challenges the boundaries by finding not only the cures to the most dangerous diseases, but finds a way to prevent them even before they occur. With years of research, practice and data available for analysis, scientists are using advanced technology in combination with years of research to create a predicting mechanism for often fatal diseases like cancer.
Breast cancer screening has always been done with mammography. The fact is that this method is only 75% accurate, laden with false positives and misses a whole set of women totally- and that too when cancer has already developed. Part of the problem comes from the dense breast tissue which one in three women have. This tissue masks the lumps, which makes it difficult for mammograms to accurately screen cancer.
Some breakthrough scientific methods are changing this by drawing on years of research to predict this deadly disease, years before it can manifest itself.
A genetic test to predict cancer 10-11 years ahead of time. This test was performed to see how environmental factors could influence cancer, along with habits like smoking, abusing alcohol or hormones, genetic changes that occur and are put a large percentage of the women at a high risk of developing this disease.
A simple blood test is used for the genetic analysis of hereditary cancer. Researchers found a biological marker, methylation of the ATM gene, which has a very high ability to predict the risk of developing cancer, several years before diagnosis. 'Methylation' concluded that when one biological indicator is exposed to carcinogenic substances, or other abusive substances like tobacco and alcohol, it may trigger the development of cancer. On the flip side, this test will take time to reach the commercial market and even then cannot give an exact timeline as to when someone may develop the disease.
A simple blood test to predict breast cancer 5 years before it develops. This is the kind of medical miracle the world is looking for. Last year in April, researches in Denmark identified a simple blood test that can predict breast cancer five years before it actually develops with an accuracy of a whopping 80%.
It works by "measuring all of the compounds in the blood to build a 'metabolic profile' of an individual, in order to detect changes in the way chemicals are processed, during a pre-cancerous stage," says Laura Donnelly, health editor at The Telegraph, which covered this development. Danish researchers observed 57,000 participants over 20 years, gathering blood samples along the way, specifically comparing a set of 800 women who remained healthy or developed breast cancer within 7 years of their first blood sample. The researchers found they were able to predict, with 80 percent accuracy, which patients would be affected by the disease, just by looking at the metabolic profiles they built from the participants' blood samples. The results have been published in Metabolomics. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Gynaecologist.
Breast cancer is an abnormal growth of cells in the tissues of the breast. Mainly it occurs in females but less than 1% of all the breast cancer cases develop in males. The majority of breast cancers start in the milk ducts. A small number start in the milk sacs or lobules. It can spread to the lymph nodes and to the other parts of the body such as bones, liver, lungs and to the brain.
With more reliable early detection methods as well as the trend towards less invasive surgery, there is hope that even more women with breast cancer will be treated successfully and will go on to resume their normal lives.
Signs & Symptoms
It is painless, especially, during the early stage. Watch out for the following changes in the breast:
- A persistent lump or thickening in the breast or in the axilla.
- A change in the size or shape of the breast.
- A change in the colour or appearance of the skin of the breast such as redness, puckering or dimpling.
- Bloody discharge from the nipple.
- A change in the nipple or areola such as scaliness, persistent rash or nipple retraction (nipple pulled into the breast).
Consult a doctor immediately if you notice any of these changes.
Being a woman puts you at risk of getting breast cancer. There are certain factors that increase the risk of breast cancer. Some of them have been listed below:
- The risk increases with age; most cases of breast cancer develop after the age of 50
- Genetic alterations in certain genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2
- Family history of breast cancer
- Being overweight
- Early menarche (onset of menstruation before the age of 12)
- Late menopause (after the age of 55)
- Never had children
- Late childbearing
- No breast feeding
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Use of hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) for a long period of time
However, most women who have breast cancer have none of the above risk factors. Likewise, not having any of these risk factors does not mean that you will not get breast cancer.
Early Detection and Screening
More treatment options are available when breast cancer is diagnosed at an early stage and hence the chances of recovery is also higher. So regular breast screening is important for early detection even if there are no symptoms. Following are the ways of screening:
- Breast Self-Examination (BSE): Perform BSE once a month about a week after your menses are over. If you no longer menstruate, choose a date each month which is easy to remember e.g. your date of birth or anniversary.
- Clinical Breast Examination: Get a breast specialist to examine your breast once a year if you are 40 years and above.
- Mammogram: Go for a screening mammogram once a year if you are 40 to 49 years old and once every two years if you are 50 years and above even if you do not have any symptom. It is not recommended for younger women (less than 40 years of age) as they have dense breasts, making it difficult for small changes to be detected on a mammogram. So ultrasonography of the breasts is advisable to them.
Types of Breast cancer
- Non-Invasive Breast cancer: These are confined to the ducts within the breasts. They are known as Ductal carcinoma in-situ (DCIS).
- Invasive Breast cancer: It occurs when cancer cells spread beyond the ducts or lobules. Cancer cells first spread to the surrounding breast tissue and subsequently to the lymph nodes in the armpit (Axillary lymph nodes). These cells can also travel to the other parts of the body such as bones, liver, lungs or brain and hence known as metastatic breast cancer.
Making A Diagnosis
If you notice any unusual changes in your breasts, you should see a doctor immediately. He will examine you clinically and may ask you to undergo some tests so that a definitive diagnosis can be made. Further, the staging work up is done to find out the stage of the disease and management accordingly.
Treatment of breast cancer may include various methods such as surgery with or without breast reconstruction, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy and targeted therapy. Treatment options offered, depend upon the number of factors such as the stage of cancer and likelihood of cure, your general health and your preference. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
Hello Dr. My mother facing the problem regarding slip disk in the year of 2012 now she is fine but some time he faced pain what I will do so he will get normal.
I have been suffering from disk problem since 7 months. I have consulted a doctor. I took x-Ray as per his advice. He said disk has been narrowed. He prescribed some painkillers and vitamin tablets. Could anyone please prescribe some medicine for me. I am really unable to sit without any support.
She is 63 years old suffering from diabetes-on Insulin+other allopathy medicines but the sugar level running from 70 to 200 and more. Today fasting 90 but PP is going high between 200 to 300. She is on Insulin from last 15 years. Can she be treated with you? And I am also suffering from Slip Disc. L4 L5 S1 and taken 15 days Ayurvedic treatment such as Katibastyi, Malish, Steam bath etc but there is nothing complete and permanent. Please advise us to permanent treatment.
The spine plays a very crucial role, both from a person’s movement and sensation point of view. It carries the nervous supply for a lot of internal organs and the lower body. By virtue of its structure, it also helps in movement through the disks. Due to various reasons, spinal injury is common, causing pain along the back, lower extremities, neck etc.
Medicines and exercise are the first line of treatment for most spinal injuries. The issue, however, is that these only provide relief from the pain and the medicines, but do not actually ‘rectify’ the underlying problem. Whether it is a herniated disk or a pinched nerve, the medicines and exercise can relieve the symptoms, but the disk continues to be herniated and the nerve continues to be pinched. Definite treatment is in the form of surgery, and with recent advancements in the field of spinal surgery, there are minimally invasive surgical options, which provide complete cure with minimal recovery time. Some of the benefits of this are listed below-
Smaller incision compared to traditional surgical procedures, where only the injured area is accessed
The surrounding tissues are untouched, unless they are injured and require repair
Lesser bleeding compared to earlier techniques
Lesser painful procedure
Reduced hospitalization period
Quicker recovery and return to normal activities
The question, however, is whether this is indicated in everybody. A detailed discussion with your surgeon keeping the below points in mind will help identify the answer for this. The main driver should be the answer to the question – will the surgery be able to effectively relieve you of the pain and symptoms? Additionally, the following factors help in getting better results out of a minimally invasive spinal surgery.
Presence of symptoms relating to nerve compression, including pain from the spine down the leg.
Recent onset of symptoms, with pain starting days to months before seeing the doctor. This indicates the condition is relatively new and so damage is minimal, indicating favorable outcome. Chronic pain conditions take slightly longer time compared to recent injuries.
People with active lifestyle who engage in regular physical exercise are likely to have better benefits from the minimally invasive procedure.
Smoking reduces blood flow to the spine, leading to disk degeneration and weakening of bones. Healing is highly slowed down and recovery is overall delayed.
Excessive weight puts strain on the back, and so healing can be delayed or badly affected with more complications. It is not a contraindication, but be prepared for a longer recovery period.