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Breast Cancer

03.12.2023
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Breast Cancer
Guest Post

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a disease that occurs with the uncontrolled and abnormal proliferation of cells in the breast tissue, resulting in a tumor. A change occurs among the cells that make up the breast tissue for an undetermined reason, and this situation manifests itself clinically with the formation of a tumor. Although cancerous tissue initially affects the local environment of the breast, in later stages it can spread to the lymph nodes close to the breast and then to other organs of the body. If early diagnosis and timely intervention is not made, the disease can progress to a stage that is very difficult and sometimes impossible to treat.

Incidence and Risk Factors

The frequency of breast cancer is increasing globally, and according to statistics, it is approximately 100.000-40 cases per 50 women. In particular, according to data in the USA, the probability of a woman developing breast cancer throughout her life is expressed as 1/8. This reveals how common cancer is and how important it is for women. It is a known fact that the frequency of breast cancer increases with age, but some precautions can be taken to protect against the disease.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Be woman:

Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer affecting women worldwide. Although there is a risk of breast cancer in men, this is very rare and the majority of breast cancer cases occur in women.

Age and Menopause:

As you get older, the chance of getting breast cancer also increases. Especially women between the ages of 50-70 are at risk, menopause This risk continues in the post-operative period. Hormonal changes in the body during menopause can affect the chances of developing breast cancer.

Familial Predisposition:

Breast cancer may be under the influence of genetic factors. If you have a family history of breast cancer, especially among your first-degree relatives (mother, sister or daughter), your risk increases. The closer the degree of consanguinity and the more relatives with breast cancer, the higher the risk.

Personal Cancer History:

People who have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer have a higher risk of cancer recurring or developing cancer in the other breast.

Age of Menstruation and Menopause:

Starting menstruation at an early age (before age 12) and late menopause (after age 55) cause women to be in contact with estrogen for longer periods of time. This may increase the risk of breast cancer.

Fertility and Postpartum Conditions:

The risk may be slightly increased in women who have never had children or who have their first child after the age of 30. Additionally, because breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer, the risk may be slightly higher in women who do not breastfeed.

Hormone Therapy:

Long-term hormone treatments, especially postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy, may increase the risk of breast cancer. Studies provide clear information about the duration and dose of therapy.

Life style:

Some elements of modern city life increase the risk of breast cancer. These include factors such as intense stress, irregular sleep and eating habits.

Cigarettes and Tobacco Products:

Smoking and use of tobacco products are associated with many types of cancer and also increase the risk of breast cancer.

Obesity and Nutrition:

Excessive weight gain, especially after menopause, and a diet rich in saturated fats are important risk factors for the development of breast cancer. A healthy body mass index and a balanced diet can reduce this risk.

Lack of Physical Activity:

Regular exercise or physical activity is a factor that can reduce the risk of breast cancer. It is thought that exercise has a protective effect by regulating the hormone balance in the body and strengthening the immune system.

Knowing breast cancer risk factors and taking precautions against them is critical in preventing or early diagnosis of the disease. Adopting a healthy lifestyle, having regular health checks and following doctor's recommendations are of great importance in this regard. It should not be forgotten that not every risk factor causes cancer for every individual; But knowing is a powerful step to take action.

Breast Cancer and its Types: Overview of Diagnosis and Treatment Processes

Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer among women all over the world. There is more than one type of this disease, which has a high success rate with early diagnosis and correct treatment options. So what are the types of breast cancer and how are these types classified?

Types of Noninvasive (In Situ) Breast Cancer:

The noninvasive form of breast cancer means that the tumor is confined to where it started and has not spread to surrounding tissues. These types are divided into two as follows:

1. Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS):

DCIS is an initial stage in which cancer develops in the cells lining the inner surface of the breast ducts. This type of breast cancer is mostly detected during routine mammography screenings, and it is known that treatment success is high if it is detected at an early stage.

2. Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS):

LCIS, on the other hand, occurs with the proliferation of cancerous cells in the lobules of the breast that are involved in milk production. LCIS ​​is not considered a type of cancer, but it is a condition that carries the risk of developing into cancer in the future.

While treatment options for both types of in situ cancer are determined together with your doctor, follow-up and regular check-ups are of great importance.

Types of Invasive Breast Cancer:

Invasive breast cancer is the type where cancer cells have the potential to spread from where they first started to surrounding tissues. The most common invasive cancers are:

1. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC):

IDC is the most common form of breast cancer, accounting for approximately 80% of cases. It is characterized by cancer cells gaining the ability to spread to surrounding tissues, starting from the breast ducts.

2. Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC):

ILC is a type of cancer that starts from the lobules of the breast and invades the surrounding tissues. Lobules are the milk-producing parts of the breast, and this type of cancer cells usually give rise to tumors that are slightly more widespread and do not have clear boundaries.

These types of invasive cancers are treated according to their spreading behavior, the size of the tumor, and their spread to other tissues they affect. Treatment options include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapies. Especially in cases of breast cancer diagnosed at an early stage, it is possible to completely remove the tumor with surgery and minimize the risk of recurrence with additional treatments.

These treatment processes, which vary depending on the type of breast cancer, are customized for the patient and require a multidisciplinary approach. The doctor usually determines the treatment plan by taking into account factors such as the patient's health status, the stage and biological characteristics of the cancer, as well as patient preferences and lifestyle. As in every case, regular check-ups and early diagnosis are one of the most important weapons in the fight against breast cancer. You can get detailed information about breast cancer types, treatment methods and steps to take when fighting this disease by consulting your doctor.

Ways of Protection

Prevention of breast cancer is possible through a number of lifestyle changes and preventive measures:

  1. Avoiding Carcinogenic Substances: Staying away from proven carcinogenic substances such as cigarettes and alcohol is an important step in reducing the risk of cancer.
  2. Healthy Nutrition and Sports: Regular physical activity and a balanced diet are a protective factor in maintaining body health and against many types of cancer, including breast cancer.
  3. Ideal weight: Obesity is one of the factors that increases the risk of breast cancer. Therefore, maintaining an ideal body weight may protect against this disease.
  4. Breast-feeding: For mothers who have had a baby, there is evidence that breastfeeding during the first 6 months has a protective effect against breast cancer.
  5. Fertility and Age of Motherhood: It has been observed that the risk of breast cancer is lower in women who give birth to their first child at a lower age.
  6. Hormone Drugs: It is known that hormone medications used after menopause may increase the risk of breast cancer. Therefore, it is very important to act under the advice and supervision of a physician regarding hormone therapy.

Research and statistics that shed light on this information point to measures we can individually take to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Scientific studies and expert opinions emphasize the importance of raising awareness on this issue and early diagnosis. Thanks to regular check-ups, correct lifestyle choices and awareness-raising activities regarding breast cancer, the fight against this disease can be made more effective.

Symptoms to Pay Attention to in Early Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer among women. Early diagnosis is extremely important for the treatment of cancer and can be lifesaving. For this reason, every woman should know the symptoms of breast cancer well and examine herself regularly.

Important Symptoms of Breast Cancer

  1. Mass or Hardness in the Breast: Masses of 1 cm or larger in the breast noticed during self-examinations are one of the most common symptoms of breast cancer. Cancerous masses are usually hard, have irregular edges, and do not move within the breast tissue.
  2. Breast Asymmetry: Noticing a new asymmetry between the two breasts may be a sign that needs to be evaluated carefully.
  3. Shrinkage in the Nipple or Skin: Any shrinkage, inward collapse, or developing deformities in the breast or nipple should be taken into consideration.
  4. Skin Changes: Redness, wound formation, eczema appearance, crusting or cracking may be a sign of cancerous changes. In addition, orange peel appearance of the skin and roughness in the breast tissue should also be taken into consideration.
  5. Change in Nipple: Any change in shape or direction of the nipple is among the common symptoms.
  6. Physical Changes: Unusual breast swelling, increase in size, or pain other than that felt during menstrual periods are among the conditions that need to be checked.
  7. Discharge from Nipple: Discharge, especially pink or red, may be an indication of abnormal fluid outflow in and around the nipple.
  8. Armpit Changes: Stiffness, swelling or the presence of a mass in the armpit can be an important finding indicating that the lymph nodes are affected.

The Importance of Prevention and Early Diagnosis

Recognizing breast cancer symptoms early increases the chance of treatment success. As a life-saving measure, the general approach recommended to women is:

  1. Regular Breast Self-Examination: Breast self-examination should be performed at least once a month, after the menstrual period ends.
  2. Regular Clinical Examination: It is important for women to undergo breast examinations by doctors in health institutions periodically.
  3. Mammography and Other Imaging Methods: Annual mammography screenings are recommended for women over the age of 40. For younger people or individuals at high risk, more frequent and different imaging methods may be used according to the doctor's recommendation.

Breast Cancer Stages and Its Importance

Breast cancer is one of the most important issues in terms of women's health, and in addition to early diagnosis, determining the stage of the disease plays a critical role in the success of treatment. The stage of cancer refers to the size of the tumor, its extent of spread, and its presence in the lymph nodes and other parts of the body. This information guides oncology specialists in determining the most appropriate treatment strategy. Here is detailed information about the stages of breast cancer and the importance of these stages:

  1. Stage 0 (Carcinoma in situ): This is the earliest stage of cancer. Carcinoma in situ indicates that cancer cells remain confined to the place of origin and have not yet spread to surrounding tissues or lymph nodes. Management usually involves local treatments, for example surgery and sometimes radiotherapy. Stage 0 breast cancer generally has a good prognosis.
  2. Stage I: In this stage, the tumor is 2 centimeters (cm) or smaller and has not spread to surrounding tissues or lymph nodes. This stage, considered early stage breast cancer, is usually treated with surgery and has high success rates in controlling the disease.
  3. Stage IIA and IIB: Stage II breast cancer is divided into IIA and IIB, depending on the size of the tumor and whether it has spread to the lymph nodes. If the tumor is smaller than 2 cm and has spread to the lymph nodes, or if it is 2-5 cm in size and has not spread to the lymph nodes, cancer at this stage is classified as IIA. If the tumor is between 2-5 cm and has spread to the lymph nodes, or is larger than 5 cm and has not yet spread to the lymph nodes, it is considered stage IIB. Treatment usually requires a combined approach including surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
  4. Stage IIIA, IIIB, and IIIC: These stages describe locally advanced breast cancer. The tumor may be large in size, cancer cells may be present in more than one lymph node, and the cancer may have spread to surrounding tissues. Stage III breast cancer indicates the aggressiveness of the disease and its complex response to treatment. The treatment plan usually includes a comprehensive combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and hormonal treatments.
  5. Stage IV: Stage IV, also known as metastatic breast cancer, is the most advanced stage in which the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones, lungs, liver, or brain. At this stage, cancer generally cannot be cured, but the patient's quality of life can be improved and life expectancy can be extended with methods such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy or targeted therapies.

Defining the stages of breast cancer is of fundamental importance in creating the appropriate treatment plan and assessing the patient's prognosis. The stage provides a clear idea of ​​the prevalence of the disease and gives physicians; It gives you the chance to choose the most effective treatment combinations among options such as surgical intervention, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy or targeted treatments. Early diagnosis can be achieved through regular mammography screenings and breast self-examination, and the chance of treatment can be increased by detecting cancer at an earlier stage. Since each patient's situation is different, doctors prepare a treatment plan specific to each individual and adopt personalized approaches to combating cancer.

Breast Cancer Surgery Methods and Treatment Process

Breast cancer is known as one of the most common types of cancer that threatens women's health today. While there are many different methods used for treatment, the most preferred methods are surgical procedures. Surgical interventions used in the treatment of breast cancer can produce very high rates of success, depending on the early detection of the disease.

Surgical Treatment Options

The most common first step in treatment is surgical removal of the cancerous tumor. Surgery can be performed in various ways, depending on the type of cancer tumor, its size, degree of spread, and the person's preferences. Basically three surgical methods are preferred:

  1. Mastectomy: Mastectomy is a recommended method in cases where there is a large tumor or more than one tumor. In this procedure, the entire breast is removed, including the cancerous tissue. If the patient wishes, reconstructive surgery can be performed to reconstruct the breast aesthetically after mastectomy.
  2. Skin-Sparing Mastectomy: Skin-sparing mastectomy is chosen in cases where it is necessary to remove all of the breast tissue, but the breast skin can be preserved. With this operation, it is possible to protect the breast skin and sometimes the nipple, and a natural appearance is achieved with the help of a prosthesis. It is a preferred method as a preventive surgery, especially in people who have a genetic predisposition but have not yet been diagnosed with cancer.
  3. Breast-conserving surgery: Breast-conserving surgery or lumpectomy is a method mostly used in the treatment of small tumors. During the surgery, only the cancerous tumor and some of the healthy tissue around it are removed, and the remaining part of the breast is preserved as much as possible. After lumpectomy, radiotherapy treatment is usually applied.

Post Treatment Process

Following surgical treatment, additional treatments (adjuvant treatment) are used to prevent the cancer from recurring and metastasizing. These include chemotherapy, hormone therapy and radiotherapy. One or more of these treatments can be used depending on the patient's needs.

  1. Chemotherapy: By using various chemotherapeutic drugs, cancer cells are prevented from dividing and spreading. Treatment usually begins a few weeks after surgery and can last several months.
  2. Hormone Therapy: This treatment, used in hormone receptor-positive cancers, aims to slow the growth of cancer cells by blocking the body's production of estrogen. Thus, it suppresses the development of hormone-sensitive cancer cells.
  3. Radiotherapy: Radiotherapy, a frequently used method after breast-conserving surgery, aims to kill remaining cancer cells using high-energy x-rays. It is usually applied several times a week for a total of 5-7 weeks.

The Importance of Early Diagnosis

Early diagnosis in breast cancer treatment saves lives. In breast cancer detected at an early stage, the patient's 5-year survival rate can be as high as 96%. Therefore, regular breast examination and mammography screenings are of great importance.

It requires close follow-up by a multidisciplinary team throughout the treatment process. Oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, radiation oncologists, plastic surgeons and psychological support teams play an important role in breast cancer treatment. Each patient's condition is special and the treatment plan is tailored to the individual. During this process, the patient and his family should be informed in detail and go through a comprehensive decision-making process about treatment options. High quality, transparent and understanding healthcare service is the most important part of this challenging process.

breast cancer

Preventive Approaches in Breast Cancer: The Entire Breast Is Not Always Removed

Today, approaches to the treatment of breast cancer have evolved greatly compared to the past. Mastectomy, the surgical removal of the entire breast and cleaning of the armpit lymph nodes, which was the most common method of breast cancer treatment in the past, is no longer a mandatory procedure for all cases.

In early stage breast cancer, thanks to the treatment methods offered by modern medicine, less invasive methods can be preferred depending on the size and location of the disease, instead of completely removing the breast. One of these methods is to preserve the breast by removing the tumor locally and then applying radiotherapy. Research shows that, in suitable patients, breast-conserving treatments can provide results equivalent to survival rates obtained in cases where the breast is completely removed.

Early Stage Breast Cancer and Breast Conserving Surgery

Over the last twenty years, the surgical treatment of early stage breast cancer has undergone a serious transformation with large-scale and long-term studies. As a result of these studies conducted on thousands of patients, it was understood that breast-conserving surgery methods are parallel to the survival rates provided by mastectomy.

The Importance of Breasts in Sexual Identity and Body Perception

Breasts are not only a physiological organ for women, but also have great importance in their sexual identity and body perception. For this reason, today, physicians in the treatment of breast cancer prefer preventive methods whenever possible, taking into account the psychological and social situation of the patient. Except for necessary medical conditions, all other options are evaluated before resorting to mastectomy.

Partial Mastectomy, Lumpectomy and Quadrantectomy

Thanks to breast cancer surgical methods such as partial mastectomy, lumpectomy and quadrantectomy, treatment can often be performed without removing the entire breast. With these techniques, the part where the tumor is located is carefully removed, while the remaining healthy tissue of the breast is preserved as much as possible.

The surgical technique to be used for treatment is determined by the physician according to the stage of the disease, the size and location of the tumor, and the spread of the cancer. Preoperatively, detailed interviews are held with the patients and preventive surgical methods and expectations regarding these methods are clearly discussed.

Breast Repair Surgeries

In cases where the entire breast needs to be removed, breast reconstruction surgeries may be used. Thanks to advanced surgical techniques and reconstructive procedures, aesthetic and functional results very close to natural breasts are achieved, and women's quality of life and self-confidence are supported.

Armpit Surgical Interventions: What to Know About Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy (SLNB)

One of the biggest concerns for patients diagnosed with breast cancer is finding out whether the cancer has spread to other areas in the body. Armpit lymph nodes are key indicators of the potential for breast cancer to spread. In this context, "Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy" (SLNB) techniques come into play to determine how comprehensive surgical interventions should be.

What is Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy (SLNB)?

The sentinel lymph node is the primary lymph node where cancer is most likely to first spread from the breast. SLNB is a minimally invasive method used to determine whether the cancer has spread to the armpit lymph nodes, especially in breast cancer cases.

Application of Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy Technique

SLNB procedure is performed during the surgical intervention determined as part of the patient's treatment plan. During the procedure, a radioactive substance or blue dye is first injected into the area where the tumor is located. In this way, a map is created to see whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

When the injected substance is carried by the lymph system via the radioactive substance, the first lymph node or nodes that the tumor potentially reaches (sentinel lymph nodes) can be monitored. Nodes that show high activation with a radioactive substance detector (gamma probe) are surgically removed and their condition is examined in the pathology laboratory.

If the captured sentinel lymph node contains cancer cells, removal of all lymph nodes in the area (axillary dissection) may be necessary. However, if the sentinel lymph nodes are clear, the procedure can be terminated without the need for a more extensive surgical procedure.

Advantages and Importance of SLNB

The SLNB method is of great importance in preventing side effects such as lymphedema, shoulder limitation and arm numbness that can be caused by axillary dissection. Thanks to this method, only the affected lymph nodes can be intervened and healthy lymph nodes can be protected. This contributes to preserving the quality of life of patients and accelerating the recovery process after treatment.

Correct execution of the SLNB procedure is vital for oncological safety in breast cancer surgery. Surgical decisions regarding the armpit area should be made sensitively to minimize long-term side effects experienced by the patient. Therefore, close collaboration and communication between the surgical team and pathologists is necessary.

Careful removal and examination of sentinel lymph nodes allows the stage of breast cancer to be accurately determined and the most appropriate treatment plan for the patient to be made. In this context, SLNB techniques play a central role in modern oncology practice and have an important place in the development of cancer treatment and patient satisfaction.

Patients and healthcare professionals should be informed about the importance of SLNB in ​​breast cancer treatment, application techniques and follow-up plans for the SLNB result, and should be in transparent communication about the advantages and potential limitations of this method.