BREAST CANCER TREATMENT IN NCHRC
Over the last ten years Breast Cancer has been rising steadily and now it is the most common cancer in women in Nepal too. Age adjusted rate is as high as 25.8 per 100,000 women and mortality 12.7 per 100,000 women. With the advent of effective screening modalities it is now possible to detect breast cancer at an earlier stage. Five year survival rate of breast cancer detected at the earliest stage is more than 90%.
The Breast Cancer treatment team at Nepal Cancer Hospitals & Research centers offers leading-edge, personalized care, from effective screening through diagnosis, treatment and survivorship. Till date more than a thousand breast surgeries have been done.
We consider every woman and man diagnosed with breast cancer to be a unique individual who deserves a carefully thought-out, personalized treatment plan offering advanced care. With this objective each case is being discussed in detail in tumor board for better outcomes. To provide the best treatment options to meet each patient’s goals, our specialists work as a united team, carefully evaluating patient and the specifics of breast cancer.
Our specialists are experts in breast cancer care and research, providing patients the latest and the most effective treatments with the greatest chance of cure. Our center is one of the few centers in the world providing latest cutting edge diagnostic technologies and targeted treatments, minimal invasive surgery, molecular pathology and more-effective chemotherapies, radiotherapy and prevention.
Breast Cancer is a malignant tumour specific to the human breast. It is the result of an atypical growth of cells in the breast that can metastasize to other body parts, causing a systematic breakdown of body processes and fatality. Lately, we have seen a surge in breast cancer cases in India and worldwide. As per National Cancer Registry Programme, 25% to 32% of all female cancers in the leading Indian urban centres are related to breast cancer. Though females are the prime victim of breast cancer, males can also develop the malignancy. The origin of breast cancer is shrouded in mystery. However, there are certain risk factors specific to the condition, such as ageing, heredity, genes, radiation exposure, obesity, delayed pregnancy and alcohol.
The prominent symptoms and signs of breast cancer may include, but not limited to:
- Formation of a thick piece of mass (lump) in the infected breast or just below the armpit
- Constant pain in the infected region, ranging from mild to severe
- The breast skin developing pits and redness
- The infected nipple(s) carrying rashes
- Blood discharge from the nipple of the infected breast
- A deep-set or upturned nipple
- A drastic anomaly in the breast shape or size
- The skin of the nipple with effects like peeling, flaking or scaling
It is worth mentioning that the majority of lumps are benign. However, a regular check-up is always advised, as the chances of successful breast cancer treatment amplify with an early detection.
- Age: The risk of developing cancer in breasts increases with ageing. It is more invasive in women above the age of 55.
- Drinking alcohol: Consuming high amounts of alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer.
- Having dense tissues in the breast: Dense breast tissue creates difficulty in reading mammograms while increasing the risk of breast cancer.
- Gender: Compared to men, women are 100 times more at risk of developing breast cancer.
- Genes: Women with gene mutations – BRCA1 and BRCA2 – are at higher risk of developing breast cancer than women without these gene mutations.
- Early menstruation: Menstruation before the age of 12 may increase the risk of breast cancer.
- Giving birth at an older age: Women who give birth to their first child after 35 years of age are at the risk of breast cancer.
- Inherited risk: If any close female (like your mother, sister or daughter) in your family had breast cancer, your chances of developing it increase.
- Late menopause: If the menopause doesn’t start until 55 years of age, you are more likely to develop breast cancer.
- Never being pregnant: If you have never been pregnant, the chances of developing breast cancer increase.
- Previous breast cancer: If you were treated for breast cancer in one breast, the chances of developing it in the other breast increase
- It is divided into two categories:
1. Ductal breast cancer
- Ductal carcinoma in situ: It is a non-invasive condition, where the cells begin to line the ducts of your breast and appear to be cancerous. However, DCIS cells don’t invade the surrounding breast tissue.
- Invasive ductal carcinoma: It is a common type of breast cancer that begins in the milk ducts of breasts and invades the surrounding tissues as well. It can even spread to other tissues or organs as well.
2. Lobular breast cancer
- Lobular carcinoma in situ: It grows in milk-producing glands of the breast but doesn’t invade the surrounding tissues.
- Invasive lobular carcinoma: It develops in the breast lobules and may spread to other nearby tissues.
- Though a variety of staging methods are in use, generally breast cancer is spread out in five stages, each of which is characterised by the size and outreach of the tumour. The oncologist often determines the stages by subjecting the patient to a series of specialised physical exams, X-rays, biopsies, bone scans and blood tests.Initial stage: The primary stage of breast cancer is also medically referred to as Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS). Here, the malignant cells are restricted within the duct and yet to come in contact with the surrounding tissues.Stage 1: This stage is characterised by the abnormal growth of malignant cells. The tumour size is about 2 cm and the lymph nodes are not infected as yet.Stage 2: Herein, the tumour gains size and outreach. The surrounding lymph nodes come in contact with the infected cells.Stage 3: In the onset of this stage, the tumour gains mass and may become as big as 5 cm across. The threat of infected lymph nodes is maximized.Stage 4: The final stage is characterised by the metastasis of malignant tissues. Cancer spreads to distant organs, among which the prime recipients are brain, liver, bones and lungs.
Following are the most common treatment options for breast cancer:
There are different types of surgeries for removing breast cancer. Some common breast cancer surgeries are mastectomy, lumpectomy, sentinel node biopsy, axillary lymph node dissection and contralateral prophylactic mastectomy.
2. Radiation therapy
In this treatment option, high-powered radiation beams are passed through your skin for killing cancer cells.
It is a drug treatment for destroying cancer cells. This treatment is generally done along with surgery. It is done before surgery to shrink tumour cells so that surgery could be avoided.
4. Hormone therapy
In this treatment option, production of oestrogen and progesterone hormones is blocked, as these hormones may lead to the growth of tumours.
Certain medications, such as Herceptin, are also prescribed for blocking the body’s production of HER2 protein, which helps in growing breast cancer cells.