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Cancer is the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of cells in a particular body part. With continued growth, pieces of this tissue travel through the blood to different body parts and continue to grow in the new area. This is known as metastases. Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and affects about 1 in 8 women in the USA. Read on to know more details of breast cancer – breast anatomy, causes, symptoms, risk factors, detection, prevention, and of course treatment.
Anatomy: The main function of the breast is lactation through its milk-producing tissue that are connected to the nipple by narrow ducts. In addition, there is surrounding connective tissue, fibrous material, fat, nerves, blood vessels and lymphatic channels which complete the structure. This is essential to know as most breast cancers develop as small calcifications (hardened particles) in the ducts or as small lumps in the breast tissue which then continues to grow into cancer. The spread can happen through lymphatic or blood flow to other organs.
Warning signs/symptoms: The following are some symptoms that need to be watched out for if you have a predisposition to breast cancer.
- A lump in either of the breasts or armpits
- Change in size, shape, or contour of either breast
- Redness of your breast or nipple
- Discharge of clear or bloody fluid
- Thickening of breast tissue or skin that lasts through a period
- Altered look or feel of the skin on the breast or the nipple (dimpled, inflamed, scaly, or puckered)
- One area on the breast that looks very different from the other areas
- Hardened area under the breast skin
Either one or a combination of these should be an indication to get a detailed checkup done. Early diagnosis results in controlling the disease with minimal treatment and reduced complications.
Causes and risk factors: The exact cause for breast cancer is yet to be pinned down. However, risk factors are clearly identified, and women with risk factors need to watch out for warning signs.
- Family history: Of all the risk factors, the family history is the most important. Breast cancer runs in families, and if there is a first-degree relative with the breast cancer, the chances of developing it are almost double. Two genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the carriers of the disease, and this testing can be done in women to identify if they are at risk.
- Family history of other cancers: Even if there is no breast cancer, if there are other cancers that run in the family, watch out.
- Age: Women over 50 are at higher risk of developing breast cancer.
- Race: Caucasian and Jewish women are at higher risk of breast cancer than African-American women.
- Hormones: Greater exposure to the female hormone estrogen increases the chances of developing breast cancer. Women who use birth control pills for contraception and hormone replacement after menopause are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
- Gynecologic milestones: Women who have abnormal menstrual milestones need to watch out. These include those who attain menarche before 12 years of age, get pregnant after 30, attain menopause after 55, and have menstrual cycles shorter than 26 days or longer than 29 days.
- Obesity and alcohol abuse are also likely to increase a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer.
Stages: Starting from stage 0, higher stages indicate advanced disease.
- Stage 0: The growth which has begun in the milk-producing tissue or the ducts has remained there (in situ) and not spread to any other area, including the rest of the breast.
- Stage I: The tissue slowly becomes invasive and has begun to affect the surrounding healthy tissue. It could have spread to the fatty breast tissue and some breast tissue may be found in the nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage II: The cancer at this stage grows considerably or spreads to other parts. There are chances that cancer may grow and also spread.
- Stage III: It may have spread to the bones or other organs but small amounts are present in up to 9 to 10 of the lymph nodes in the armpits and collar bones which makes it is difficult to fight.
- Stage IV: The cancer is widespread to far-flung areas like the liver, lungs, bones, and even the brain.
Screening: This is one of the most effective ways to identify the disease in its early stages. This will help in controlling cancer from spreading with minimal treatment.
- Self-examination: A thorough self-examination to look for changes in terms of shape, size, colour, contour, and firmness should be learned by all women. Watch for any discharge, sores, rashes, or swelling in the breasts, surrounding skin, and nipple. Examine them while standing and when lying down.
- In most women, annual screening mammograms are advised after the age of 40. However, in women who have a strong family history or genetic makeup, it is advisable to have screening mammograms starting at age 20 every 3 years and then annually from the age of 40.
- Women in high-risk categories should have screening mammograms every year and typically start at an earlier age.
- Ultrasound screening can also be given in addition to mammograms.
- Breast MRI is another way to screen for breast cancer if the risk is greater.
Breast Cancer Prevention: Now that there is so much awareness about causes and risk factors, there are definitely ways to prevent or delay the onset of the disease.
- Exercise and a healthy diet with reduced amount of alcohol are definitely effective in minimising the chances of developing cancer.
- Tamoxifen is used in women who are at high risk for breast cancer.
- Evista (raloxifene) which is used to treat osteoporosis after menopause. It is also widely used in preventing breast cancer.
- In high-risk women, breasts are surgically removed to prevent the development of cancer (preventive mastectomy).
Treatment: As with all cancers, treatment would depend on the stage at which it is identified and include a combination of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. As noted earlier, if you are at risk, look out for warning signs as early diagnosis is the key to maximum recovery.
Hello, Due to C5 & C6 disc buldge in neck I have severe neck pain. Please tell me a remedy. I have gone under dr treatments, pills & psychotherapy but still have a severe pain
I have a herniated disk (bulged disk/slip disk) at c7 and the c7 nerve is compressed for last 2 months. Do you have treatment in ayurveda ?
My wife is suffering from slip disc I already have consulted orthopedic surgeon now, will homeopathy be more effective than doctors medicine. Please advise.?
Many women develop uterine fibroids by the time they hit the age of 50 years and above. These are non-cancerous growths that may occur in the uterus. Most women go through severe bleeding and pain as well as discomfort as a result of these fibroids. Age, family history of the same condition, obesity or being overweight, eating habits and even ethnicity play a large role in deciding the risk of each individual patient. These fibroids can grow in the submucosal, intramural and subserosal areas.
Following are the common side effects of uterine fibroids:
- Frequent urination: Due to the pressure of the fibroids on the uterus, the patient may experience a constant feeling of fullness in the lower pelvic area of the body, which may lead to frequent filling of the bladder. This gives rise to frequent trips to the washroom for urination.
- Heavy Bleeding: Severe bleeding is one of the most common causes of the presence of these kinds of fibroids. The patient may experience a lot of bleeding during menstrual periods, as well as pain and cramps the rest of the time. The periods will also be very painful when there are fibroids in the uterus or the uterine lining.
- Painful Intercourse: It is a well-known fact that any kind of infection or growth as well as sores and other such ailments can lead to vaginal dryness as well as pain during sexual intercourse. This is true for uterine fibroids as well, which can lead to severe pain during sexual activity. These fibroids can also give rise to pain in the lumbar or lower back region.
- Abdomen Swelling: The abdomen may go through significant swelling in such a condition and the patient may even look like she is pregnant. The growth can push the shape of the abdomen outwards and create a full feeling.
- Pregnancy Complications: The presence of uterine fibroids can give rise to several complications during pregnancy and even after child birth. One of the most common problems in this case is bleeding, followed by more severe outcomes like miscarriage. The women suffering from uterine fibroids are at greater risk of undergoing a caesarean section for the delivery of the baby. The baby may also be born breech and a premature delivery may take place.
- Infertility: This is also a rare side effect of the uterine fibroids and is generally seen only in very severe cases.
- Cancer: Only one in every 1000 cases might transform into malignant tumours. These uterine fibroids are generally known to be non-malignant.
Any symptoms must be reported to a gynaecologist at the earliest to avoid any serious complications.
Collectively grouped under the Ewing sarcoma family of tumors, Ewing's sarcoma is the second most common form of bone cancer, which is commonly seen in children and adolescents. Very rarely is it experienced in adults above the age of 30.
Typically forming in the bones of the chest, pelvis, head, back or trunk and in the long bones of the arms and legs, Ewing's sarcoma is believed to originate in certain kinds of primitive cells. When it begins to affect similar kind of cells found outside the bone, it is usually called an extraosseous Ewing's sarcoma.
1. Similar to all types of Ewing tumors, Ewing's sarcoma is generally caused by an alteration in a certain cell compelling a gene named EWS found on chromosome no. 22 to move over to a DNA section on any one of the surrounding chromosomes resulting in the activation of the EWS gene.
2. While it is not a hereditary condition, it usually occurs after childbirth, but no substantial evidence has been found as to why it happens so.
Symptoms of Ewing's sarcoma may include:
1. Swelling and pain especially in the arms, legs, back, chest or pelvis
2. Swelling accompanied by joint immobility
3. A bone breaks having no apparent cause
4. Swelling which may or may not be accompanied by a warm, tingling sensation
5. Fever resulting from unknown causes
6. Lumps or bumps which do not subside over time
7. Abnormal weight loss
8. High levels of fatigue
9. Tumors which have spread over to the lungs may cause shortness of breath
10.Tumors spread over to the spine may cause weakness or even paralysis.
Because the symptoms of Ewing's sarcoma can hardly be distinguished from symptoms caused by other infections or injuries, an early diagnosis is absolutely necessary for a successive treatment. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an oncologist and ask a free question.
I have back pain L4. L5 problem fast in 5 years. I want to reduce pain with out operation is possible. Please Inform
I have back pain before 3 years. I have checked MRI test in hospital that result show the mild disc dics bulge noted at L4 and L5 level intending the thecal sac without neurological compression. Doctor has given pain relief tablets but no get relaxation. Please give me solution.
I am having problem in l4 and I5. This problem is from around 3 years. But the condition is improved now. Can you please suggest some exercises?
A uterine cyst, also called as ovarian cyst, is the formation of a fluid-filled sac within the ovary of a woman. Uterine cysts may sometimes cause several physical symptoms. They can cause great pain and unpleasant sensations. Most cysts go away by themselves, but still sufficient measures should be taken to deal with the inconvenience caused by a uterine cyst. In severe cases, the cyst can damage the ovaries. Scar tissue is also likely to build up in such cysts to form an adhesion, which causes discomfort.
Uterine cysts can cause great damage to the sexual organs of a woman, and hence, it should never be ignored. Here are 5 ways to deal with uterine cysts:
Using Birth Control Pills: In case of recurrent uterine cysts, you can take oral contraceptives with the prescription of a doctor. This will prohibit ovulation, and the development of new cysts will be prevented. The risk of ovarian cancer is also reduced.
Laparoscopy: In case the cyst is small, a laparoscopy surgery can be conducted by a doctor. This will enable the surgical removal of the cyst. The process of laparoscopy involves making of a small incision around the navel region. A small instrument or device is inserted into the abdomen, which removes the cyst.
Laparotomy: Laparotomy is a surgical procedure of removing a large uterine cyst. This procedure is applied when a cyst becomes too large to be removed using laparoscopy. The procedure involves the removal of the cyst via an incision made in the abdomen. An immediate biopsy is conducted and in case the cyst is found out to be cancerous, a hysterectomy surgery is conducted, which removes the ovaries and uterus completely.
Herbal Tea: Moving from medical procedures to natural ways for dealing with uterine cysts, herbal tea is believed to be one of the best natural treatments for uterine cysts. Herbal tea helps in the breakdown of large cysts and the side effects of the cysts such as discomfort or pain are eased. Have a cup of herbal tea every day to get rid of uterine cysts.
Diet: Uterine cysts may develop due to an unhealthy diet. Modern food items contain synthetic and natural estrogens, which cause disruption in ovarian health. Consuming adulterated meat, where the animals are given hormones, and antibiotics may result in uterine cysts. Soy contains a great amount of estrogen, which leads to uterine cysts. All the food items which may lead to ovarian cysts should be avoided.
Uterine cysts are common in women and are caused due to several complications. You should not let uterine cysts develop as development increases severity.
I am having slip disc. I want to know to cure it with exercises and what are the precautions to took for this?
Hello Dr. Sir, I am Harvinder singh from yamunanagar, Haryana. I have lower back pain since last 2 years. Its slip disc and sciatica pain in left leg. I am very unhappy with this problem. Please advice me best of best treatment for the same and where I can get the same.
I have severe lower back pain for last 18 years which increases during periods. I'm 32 years old and unmarried. It's constant, it always pains. Is it slip disc or what Please help.
Uterine cancer is also known as endometrial cancer. It is a cancer which begins in the lining of the uterus. The uterus is the part of a woman's body where the fetus develops. Uterine cancer is one of those rare cancers in India, which can be diagnosed in its early stages. This is because excessive vaginal bleeding occurs, thus making it a very serious and an apparent symptom. It is also one of the few forms of cancer which can be cured as removing the uterus is often more than enough to cure the patient of uterine cancer.
Here are the causes, diagnosis and treatment of uterine cancer:
The exact cause of uterine cancer is not yet known, however, there is a theory on what causes uterine cancer. Hormones in a woman's body have been thought to increase the chances of getting uterine cancer. This is because it has long been thought that having high levels of estrogen is the cause of uterine cancer. Increased estrogen thickens the endometrium and thus, increases the likelihood of uterine cancer.
There are several tests used to diagnose whether you have uterine cancer including:
1. Pelvic exam: This is an examination in which the vagina, bladder, rectum and uterus are scanned for lumps. If they are found, it might be due to uterine cancer.
2. Pap test: A pap test is a special test designed to scan for uterine cancer.
3. Transvaginal ultrasound: A transvaginal ultrasound uses high-intensity sound waves so that pictures of the uterus can be taken.
4. Biopsy: During a biopsy, the doctor will remove tissue from the endometrium and it will then be analyzed for cancerous growths.
1. Surgery: This is the most common treatment as it removes the entire uterus and prevents the spreading of the cancer.
2. Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves giving drugs which kill cancerous cells. They are given through either an intravenous line or even in pill form.
3. Hormone therapy: This is a therapy in which either progesterone levels are increased or estrogen levels are decreased.
4. Radiation therapy: In this treatment, high energy laser beams are used to destroy cancerous cells.
I am 40 years old I was suffering from disc dislocation and recovered from it in 2007, but now I am suffering from Neck pain at vertebral column and my left Knee is also paining.
The uterus or womb, is a muscular structure and is held in place by ligaments and pelvic muscles. If these muscles or tendons become weak, they cause prolapse and are no longer able to hold the uterus in its place.
Uterine prolapse happens when the uterus falls or slips from its ordinary position and into the vagina or birth waterway. It could be complete prolapse or even incomplete at times. A fragmented prolapse happens when the uterus is just hanging into the vagina. A complete prolapse depicts a circumstance in which the uterus falls so far down that some tissue rests outside of the vagina. Likewise, as a lady ages and with a loss of the hormone estrogen, her uterus can drop into the vaginal canal. This condition is known as a prolapsed uterus.
Risks: The risks of this condition are many and have been enumerated as follows:
- Complicated delivery during pregnancy
- Weak pelvic muscle
- Loss of tissue after menopause and loss of common estrogen
- Expanded weight in the stomach area, for example, endless cough, constipation, pelvic tumors or accumulation of liquid in the guts
- Being overweight
- Obesity causing extra strain on the muscles
- Real surgery in the pelvic zone
Symptoms: Some of the most common symptoms of prolapse involve:
- Feeling of sitting on a ball
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Increase in discharge
- Problems while performing sexual intercourse
- Seeing the uterus coming out of the vagina
- A pulling or full feeling in the pelvis
- Bladder infections
Nonsurgical medications include:
- Losing weight and getting in shape to take stress off of pelvic structures
- Maintaining a distance from truly difficult work
- Doing Kegel workouts, which are pelvic floor practices that strengthen the vaginal muscles. This can be done at any time, even while sitting down at a desk.
- Taking estrogen treatment especially during menopause
- Wearing a pessary, which is a gadget embedded into the vagina that fits under the cervix and pushes up to settle the uterus and cervix
- Indulging in normal physical activity
Some specialists use the following methods to diagnose the problem:
- The specialist will examine you in standing position keeping in mind you are resting and request that you to cough or strain to build the weight in your abdomen.
- Particular conditions, for example, ureteral block because of complete prolapse, may require an intravenous pyelogram (IVP) or renal sonography. Color is infused into your vein, and an X-ray is used to view the flow of color through your urinary bladder.
- An ultrasound might be utilised to rule out any other existing pelvic issues. In this test, a wand is used on your stomach area or embedded into your vagina to create images of the internal organ with sound waves.