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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.
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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.
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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!
It is perfectly normal for women to experience the periodic monthly bleeding cycle. However, if a woman experiences uterine bleeding which is abnormal and dysfunctional, it could be a symptom of infection. Other causes of abnormal uterine bleeding include hormonal imbalance, infection in cervix and cancer of the uterus. Many women can also experience abnormal uterine bleeding during first trimester of pregnancy.
The following are considered to be abnormal or dysfunctional uterine bleeding:
- A menstrual cycles occurs between 21 to 35 days, anything shorter or longer than this is abnormal
- No period for 3–6 months (amenorrhea) is abnormal
- Spotting or bleeding between periods
- Spotting or bleeding after intercourse
- Bleeding that is heavier or lasts longer than usual
- Spotting or bleeding after menopause
What can cause such a situation?
Some of the common causes leading to abnormal bleeding are as follows:
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Cervical or uterine infections
- Hormonal imbalances
- Problems with blood clotting
- Polycystic ovarian
- Endometrial hyperplasia
- Cancer of the reproductive tract
How to Diagnose it?
Most women tend to ignore abnormal bleeding, taking it as something to do with age or hormones. A detailed physical examination and history is done to understand menstrual cycle patterns and family history. In addition, the following would be used.
- Ultrasound: The pelvic organs are examined through sound waves to locate the problem area
- Hysteroscopy: Through a thin device that is inserted into the vagina, the doctor takes a look at the inside of the organs and identify the cause for the bleeding
- Endometrial biopsy: The uterine lining tissue is removed and examined under microscope to look for tissue changes that could be causing the bleeding
How Best to Treat It?
This would depend on the reason for the abnormal bleeding. However, in most cases, combinations of the following are useful in treatment.
- Hormone replacement can be done depending on the age and gynecological history, the type and the dose of the hormone would be decided upon. These could be in the form of tablets, vaginal creams, injections, or through an intrauterine device
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen are useful in reducing bleeding and controlling cramps during excessive menstrual bleeding.
- Antibiotics may be useful if there is infection of the pelvic organs.
- Polyps, cysts, cancers, and other growths can be removed via hysteroscopy and sent for biopsy to confirm they are not cancerous.
- Endometrial ablation where the endometrial tissue is treated with heat can be used to control bleeding permanently.
- Hysterectomy would be done if other forms of treatment have failed. This could depend on their gynecologic history and other considerations as she cannot get pregnant after this.
Do not ignore if you see a change in the pattern of your uterine bleeding. It definitely calls for medical attention and if identified early, can be managed in much simpler ways. If you wish to discuss any specific problem, you can consult a gynaecologist.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer that affects women. It is also deemed to be one of the major reason of death among women, though lung cancer is the leading cause of this. The chances that a woman may die of breast cancer is about 2.7% of the women who are suffering. Breast cancer is known to affect men as well, in certain cases. Breast cancer may be genetic but, in certain cases, it is caused due to excess intake of alcohol. Surgery is an option, but treatments also include therapies like radiation and chemo.
Treatment for breast cancer
Breast cancer can be treated in several ways; however, the treatment depends upon many factors. These factors include the type of breast cancer, its stage, sensitivity of a person to the hormones, age of the patient, health of the patient and most importantly, preferences of the patient. The most common treatment options for breast cancer are radiation therapy, biological therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and surgery.
Cytotoxic drugs are important medications that are used to eliminate cancer cells. This medication is used if the chances of the cancer cells spreading are high. This process is known as the adjuvant chemotherapy.
Many a time, the tumor increases in size and surgery becomes essential. This is when the chemotherapy is administered to reduce the tumor size and make it easier for the surgeons to remove the tumor. This process is referred to as neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Chemotherapy can treat metastasized cancer or cancer that has affected other body parts, thereby reducing the symptoms, mostly in the advanced stages.
Radiation is targeted towards the tumor in controlled doses so that the cancer cells are destroyed. Radiation therapy is mostly advised to the patients after they go through surgery, to eliminate the cancer cells that may still be there.
Hormone blocking therapy
Most people go through breast cancer that is hormone sensitive. The hormone blocking therapy helps in preventing the recurrence in this type of breast cancer. The hormone blocking therapy is also used to reduce the size of the tumor, but this method is also suggested after a person goes through surgery.
There are some drugs that fall under this category that is used for destroying the various types of the breast cancer.
If at all the patient requires surgery, it depends on his or her diagnosis reports and his or her will to undergo surgery. The types of surgery include Lumpectomy, Sentinel node biopsy, Mastectomy, Axillary lymph node dissection, and Reconstruction. Reconstruction is the method which the doctors make use of to make both the breasts look similar after the surgery is complete. There are several treatment options available to treat breast cancer, and it depends on the choice of the patient to opt for surgery. Surgery helps in eliminating the risk of the spreading of the cancer cells, and it is one of the most effective treatments for breast cancer.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
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Uterine fibroids, also known as leiomyoma or myoma, are benign growths on the uterus, occurring mostly during the years of childbearing. Few of the common symptoms of fibroids are leg pain or backache, constipation, difficulty in emptying the bladder, frequent urination, pain or pressure in the pelvic region, menstrual periods stretching over a week and excessive menstrual bleeding.
Certain genetic changes of the uterus which are different from the ones normally present in the muscle cells of the uterus can cause this disorder.
Substances which help the body maintain its tissues trigger fibroid growth as well.
Family history, excessive consumption of alcohol and red meat while going low on foods such as dairy products, fruits, green vegetables and vitamin D, obesity, usage of birth control pills and early onset of the menstruation cycle are other factors that may escalate the risks of one suffering from fibroids.
Be careful and take a closer look: Fibroids are fundamentally non-cancerous and they hardly interfere with pregnancy. Often, they do not exhibit notable symptoms and are prone to shrinkage after menopause. Hence giving them and yourself some time might be the best option.
Medications generally aim at the hormones controlling the menstrual cycle and treating symptoms such as pelvic pressure and excessive menstrual bleeding. However, they do not treat fibroids completely but work towards contracting them. They include-
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH) agonists to block estrogen and progesterone production
Progestin-releasing intrauterine device (IUD) to alleviate severe bleeding caused due to fibroids
Tranexamic acid to ease excessive menstrual periods
Progestins or oral contraceptives to regulate menstrual bleeding
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to ease pain associated with fibroids
Surgeries to Treat Fibroids:
Depending on symptoms and whether medical therapy has failed, the patient may have to undergo surgery. The following surgical procedures may be considered:
Hysterectomy: removing the uterus. This is only considered if the fibroids are very large, or if the patient is bleeding too much. Hysterectomies are sometimes an option to prevent fibroids coming back.
Endometrial ablation: removing the lining of the uterus. This procedure may be used if the patient's fibroids are near the inner surface of the uterus; it is considered an effective alternative to a hysterectomy.
UAE (Uterine artery embolization): this treatment cuts off the fibroid's blood supply, effectively shrinking the fibroid.
Magnetic-resonance-guided focused ultrasound surgery: an MRI scan locates the fibroids, and sound waves are used to shrink the fibroids.
The brain is not a stagnant realm fed with a granted quota of intelligence and memory at birth. It is always in a state of flux. Exercising your brain in various ways accelerates its ability to perform better. It is in your hands to have a sharper take on situations and occurrences. Playing games that require brainstorming, solving quizzes, crosswords or playing chess makes you feel rejuvenated and tired at the same time; the reason being activated brain cells. A healthy brain will affect your life decisions positively and you probably will think rightly before you leap.
Tips to exercise those brain cells:
1. Meditate and calm your mind: Ten minutes of meditation each day can help you get over anxiety. When your mind is at peace you think out pros and cons with enhanced insight. This composure reflects in each of your actions. Meditation demands your brain to be quiet when it is accustomed to work; you therefore have greater control over it.
2. Music can improve your brain abilities: Music is the best antidote for a sloppy brain. Music excites the neurons healing a bruised memory. It gifts you with clarity of thought. Apart from listening to music one must try to play a musical instrument. Teaching yourself things puts your mind through a strict regimen of constructive activities.
3. Take out time to learn a new language: We are paralyzed the minute our brain gives up. Due to several external and internal reasons each one of us is likely to suffer from cognitive disorders on being subjected to extreme pressure or shock. Trying to learn a new language motivate your brain cells to have a wider vocabulary, which further restricts your chances of brain damage.
4. Mental mathematics could better your intelligence: Calculators, computers and phones are ridding us of our ability to compute individual data. Computation and consolidation of data helps your mind to work faster with precision. So, you now know those lessons on mental mathematics in childhood were actually the key to a well-rounded brain.
5. Think of something novel: The more the number of neurons the merrier is your brain. Take pains to direct your mind on a novel track. Thinking beyond what is given and expected helps your brain grow new neurons. It builds up your creativity letting you discover more of your capabilities. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a psychiatrist.