Early detection of cancer increases the chance of cure and survival; the same is true in the case of breast cancer as well. However, globally, an estimated 80% of women that undergo breast biopsy for diagnosis do not have breast cancer. So, when should a woman undergo breast biopsy? Read on to get an in-depth understanding.
What is a breast biopsy?
A breast biopsy is a clinical test that detects unhealthy tissues and suspicious fluids in the human breast. The sick cells are removed and examined under a microscope in a bid to detect breast cancer. A biopsy is the only means of determining whether the suspect area in the breast is affected by cancer.
What are the types of breast biopsy?
Various types of breast biopsy procedures are practised. These include fine-needle aspiration biopsy, core needle biopsy, stereotactic biopsy, ultrasound-guided core needle biopsy, MRI-guided core needle biopsy, and surgical biopsy.
The fine-needle aspiration biopsy is the most uncomplicated process that can evaluate a lump which can be felt during a clinical exam. Core needle biopsy may be used for evaluating lumps that are visible on a mammogram or ultrasound scanning. Stereotactic biopsy utilizes mammograms to pinpoint a location of suspicion within the breast.
Ultrasound-guided and MRI-guided core needle biopsy methods are used to guide core needle biopsy processes.
When is it recommended?
A gynaecologist may recommend undergoing a breast biopsy if he or she suspects a lump or thickening of the flesh in the breast. Mammograms and ultrasound or MRI techniques may detect a suspicious finding. Subsequently, patients have to undergo a breast biopsy to confirm the presence (or absence) of cancerous growth in the breast. Doctors and health professionals also recommend the test if conditions such as unusual areolar or nipple changes (such as scaling, crusting, bloody discharge or dimpled skin) are detected.
What are the preparations involved?
Before undergoing the breast biopsy, patients should inform their doctors about any allergies or any consumption of prescribed medication such as aspirin or other blood-thinning tablets. Similarly, doctors must be notified in advance if patients are unable to lie on their stomach for a long stretch of time. When biopsy procedures involve magnetic resonance imaging, doctors must be told if the patient has a cardiac pacemaker or any other electronic device implanted in their body. Also, health professionals must be advised when biopsy candidates are pregnant. These precautions are necessary because an MRI biopsy may not be suitable in these circumstances.
Women that are scheduled to undergo biopsy must wear an excellent supporting brassiere since they may have to hold a cold pack in the biopsy site. The correct undergarment can hold the pack in place and offers the necessary support.
It is worthy to note that multiple breast biopsy procedures may be required to obtain a tissue sample from the patient’s breast. The attending gynaecologist may recommend a particular method based on the size, location, and other individual characteristics of a lump in the breast.
So, you might have to undergo the procedure if recommended by your doctor. Patients can seek a second opinion if sceptical in this regard.
Assisted reproduction or IVF may have associations with increasing the chances of cancer amongst women. As per a study conducted on more than 250,000 women in Britain, the rates of ovarian and breast cancer were higher in women who underwent IVF.
According to the studies conducted by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, the rates of prostrate and ovarian cancer are more in patients undergoing IVF. However, in many cases the results were inconsistent. Based on another research conducted on 25,152 Dutch women, the consequences can be understood more clearly. They are as follows:
• Amongst a group of 19,146 women who underwent IVF, only 30 experienced invasive ovarian cancer. However, there were not enough statistics to prove that there was a direct relationship with the IVF procedure and cancer.
• Women undergoing IVF, who are over 55 years of age, had a 0.71% risk of cancer.
How can IVF cause cancer?
• During IVF, hyperstimulation in the female body can lead to mutations in epithelial cells, eventually leading to ovarian tumors. This increases the risk of ovarian cancer.
• IVF may alter cell growth patterns, which can trigger cancer.
As per the above information, the reports were inconclusive to suggest a direct relationship between IVF and cancer. However, cancer risks can be reduced through certain steps. They are:
• Informing the doctor about the history of cancer in your family, and getting tested for breast cancer is important.
• Approaching a successful fertility clinic will reduce the number of IVF cycles that will prevent over-exposure to hormones that might trigger cancer.
• Rather than IVF, other strategies can be applied, based on your cause of infertility.
Medical science constantly challenges the boundaries by finding not only the cures to the most dangerous diseases but the ways 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 and 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.
Are you living with the uncertainty of a lump in your breast? It's time you take the first step and consult a specialist
Breast cancer is the most common cancer that affects women. It is also deemed to be one of the major reason for 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 become 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.
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 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.
With the modernization of all economies around the world, one health hazard that has become one of the largest perils within both developed and developing nations is the incidence of cancers of the female reproductive system, especially cervical and breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the formation of malignant tumors within the breast tissues of a woman. Usually, breast cancer affects women in the age range of 40 to 50, but there have been many reports of it occurring earlier. About 48 % percent of the Indian women having breast cancer have been reported to be under 50. This is an almost 17 percent jump compared to figures 25 years earlier.
Alarming Signs of Breast Cancer:
Screening Guidelines for Breast cancer:
Some of the common treatment options for breast cancers are:
Cervical cancer ( Carcinoma Cervix)
Cervical cancer is the cancer of the cervix, which is the opening of the uterus and connects the uterus to the vagina. Indian women in particular are susceptible to cervical cancer as more than 1/3rd of the cervical cancer related deaths in the entire world happens here in India, which is about 74000 deaths annually. The leading cause for cervical cancer is HPV or Human Papillomavirus infection, which if left untreated and unchecked will result in cancer.
Alarming Signs of Cervical Carcinoma:
Apart from breast and cervical cancers, certain other cancers have also reported an alarming increase such as:-
Ovarian cancer (Carcinoma Ovary)
Starting in the ovaries, diagnosis of this type of cancer is usually delayed due to lack of visible symptoms in the initial stages. About 85% to 90% of ovarian cancers are epithelial ovarian carcinomas. Epithelial ovarian cancers tend to spread to the lining and organs of the pelvis and abdomen (belly) first. This may lead to the buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity (called ascites). As it advances, it may spread to the lung and liver, or, rarely, to the brain, bones, or skin. The main treatments for ovarian cancer are surgery and chemotherapy.
Cancer of the endometrium (Carcinoma Endometrium)
Endometrium is the lining of the uterine wall and has along with ovarian, uterine and cervical cancer is also increasing in occurrences throughout India and the world.
The grade of an endometrial cancer is based on how much the cancer forms glands that look similar to those found in normal, healthy endometrium.
Cervical cancer along with Ovarian, uterine and endometrial cancer can be treated using the following methods:
1. Surgery: Radical Hysterectomy primarily preferred option for early stage disease. Both open and minimal invasive approaches are suitable.
2. Radiation therapy or Combined Radiation therapy+Chemotherapy: Alternative to surgery in early stage and choice in late stage.
Certain prevention techniques that would be advisable to detect cancer in its early stages would be,