October is a profound month in the medical world. It’s tagged the Breast cancer awareness month. It’s normally a period to take stock and reflect on the fight against breast cancer in the world.
If you have lost a dear one, the feeling, the agony is tormenting. Seemingly if you have seen some you know suffer this ailment, you can relate.
Breast cancer is normally associated with women compared to the male folk. In the United States this cancer is most common in women aside from skin cancer.
The self-help literature and media like videos always tip to a lump on the breast, you and I can attest to this.
What is breast cancer?
It’s a malignant tumour that grows in one or both of the breasts. It develops in the ducts or lubes (the milk producing areas of the breast)
Why do women develop breast cancer more often?
The hormone in a womans body that is estrogen and progesterone increases the development.
Estrogen triggers cancer cells to double. Interestingly, estrogen can cause the breast cancer cells to double every 36 hours. Progestron triggers the cells known as stromal cells to send signals for more blood supply which leads to feeding of the tumour.
Are breast cancers the same?
There exist different stages based on the size of the tumour and whether the cancer has spread. It’s important for doctor and patient to know the stage of the cancer as it helps in making treatment options
How can I identify breast cancer, what can I look for?
The most common sign would be a lump, abnormal thickening of the breast, change in colour or shape of the breast.
• Dimpling or puckering of the skin
• Swelling , redness or warmth that does not go away
• Nipple discharge that starts and appears only on one breast
What’s the situation in Kenya?
In 2012, Kenya established a National Cancer and Prevention and Control Act making it one of the few countries with legislation for cancer. This development means the Ministry of Health called for revenue allocation for cancer control in the government budget.
A faulty national health insurance plan which hinders access to medical care compounded by apathy and lack of access to accurate information makes screen rare and cancers undetectable.
Myths exist with belief cancers are curse from the ancestors and elders
What is the treatment for breast cancer?
Patients with breast cancer have many treatment options. Most treatments are adjusted specifically to the type of cancer and the staging group. Treatment options should be discussed with your health-care team. Below you will find the basic treatment modalities used in the treatment of breast cancer.
Most women with breast cancer will require surgery. Broadly, the surgical therapies for breast cancer can be divided into breast conserving surgery and mastectomy.
This surgery will only remove part of the breast (sometimes referred to as partial mastectomy). The extent of the surgery is determined by the size and location of the tumor.
In a lumpectomy, only the breast lump and some surrounding tissue is removed. The surrounding tissue (margins) are inspected for cancer cells. If no cancer cells are found, this is called “negative” or “clear margins.” Frequently, radiation therapy is given after lumpectomies.
During a mastectomy (sometimes also referred to as a simple mastectomy), all the breast tissue is removed. If immediate reconstruction is considered, a skin-sparing mastectomy is sometimes performed. In this surgery, all the breast tissue is removed as well but the overlying skin is preserved.
During this surgery, the surgeon removes the axillary lymph nodes as well as the chest wall muscle in addition to the breast. This procedure is done much less frequently than in the past, as in most cases a modified radical mastectomy is as effective.
Modified radical mastectomy
This surgery removes the axillary lymph nodes in addition to the breast tissue.
Depending on the stage of the cancer , your health-care team might give you a choice between a lumpectomy and a mastectomy. Lumpectomy allows sparing of the breast but usually requires radiation therapy afterward. If lumpectomy is indicated, long-term follow-up shows no advantage of a mastectomy over the lumpectomy.
Written by Don King
Additional information sourced from http://www.cancercarekenya.com http://www.africacancerfoundation.org