Breast Cancer

Breast cancer starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. These cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. The tumor is malignant (cancer) if the cells can grow into (invade) surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body. Breast cancer occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get breast cancer, too.

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

Breast cancer is sometimes found after symptoms appear, but many women with breast cancer have no symptoms. This is why regular breast cancer screening is so important.

  • lump in the breast
  • bloody discharge from the nipple and changes in the shape or texture of the nipple or breast.

People may experience:

  • Breast: bloody nipple discharge, discomfort, inverted nipple, lumps, nipple discharge, or sore nipple
  • Skin: ulcers or redness
  • Also common: cancer-related fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, or weight loss

How Is Breast Cancer Detected?

Imaging Tests

  • Mammograms- a technique using X-rays to diagnose and locate tumours of the breasts.
  • Breast Ultrasound
  • Breast MRI Scans

A biopsy is done when mammograms, other imaging tests, or a physical exam shows a breast change that may be cancer. A biopsy is the only way to know for sure if it’s cancer.

How Is Breast Cancer Treated?

Treating early breast cancer
A number of treatments are available for early breast cancer. These include surgery, radiotherapy and a range of drug treatments. These are often used one after another rather than all at the same time.

For most people with breast cancer, surgery happens before any other treatment, although some women will have other treatments beforehand. During surgery, cancerous tissue in the breast is removed. Surgeons also look to see whether lymph nodes (glands) in the armpit have been affected. If they have, these are removed too.

Many women have a process called breast conserving surgery (also called wide local excision or lumpectomy). This is where only the breast cancer and a small margin of healthy tissue is removed, but surrounding healthy breast tissue is not removed.

Some women, however, will need to have the whole breast removed in an operation known as a mastectomy. Women who are offered a mastectomy should also be offered breast construction (plastic surgery to rebuild the breast).

Women who do not have immediate reconstruction, or who choose not to have reconstruction at all, can be fitted prosthesis . (breast prostheses are artificial breasts).

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DR Chitrathara K

HOD & Senior Consultant in Surgical & Gynaec Oncology. VPS Lakeshore Kochi
Specialized in gynecological, urological, and breast cancer surgeries.

  • Actively participated in the development of surgical oncology as a separate speciality in Kerala
  •  First lady Urologist of Kerala.
  • Started Kerala's first Gynaecological Cancer Surgery unit at Regional Cancer Centre, Thiruvananthapuram in 1993 & urological oncology in 2009.
  • Authored malayalam book “ Sthreekalile Arbudam-Ariyendathellam” published in 2014 by DC books
  • Editor of the following books - Ovarian Cancer (2008), Cervical cancer (2010) and Uterine Cancer (2015).

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