[toc]A malignant tumor found in the cells of the breast is called breast cancer. A tumor is said to be malignant when a group of cells become cancerous and invade the surrounding tissues or metastasize to other parts of the body. Both men and women are susceptible to breast cancer; but it is more common in women than in men.
Breast cancer commonly originates from the inner lining of the breast tissue like the milk ducts or the lobules and is called ductal carcinoma or lobular carcinoma accordingly. There are several breast cancer treatments and they are administered taking into consideration several factors like the type or the stage of the cancer.
Treatments For Breast Cancer
The first thing that needs to be discussed here is breast conserving surgery which is an operation conducted to remove the cancer and not the breast. This form of surgery includes lumpectomy, partial mastectomy and segmental mastectomy.
Lumpectomy is a surgical process to remove tumor and a small amount of normal tissue around it. Partial mastectomy is removal of a specific portion of the breast that has cancer and some normal tissue around it while segmental mastectomy involves partial mastectomy as well as removal of the lining over the chest muscles below the cancer.
The two other forms of surgery are total mastectomy which is a surgical procedure to remove the whole breast that has cancer and some of the lymph nodes under the arm for biopsy. Modified radical mastectomy involves the removal of the cancerous breast along with the lymph nodes under the arm, lining over the chest muscles and if required part of the chest wall muscles too.
Depending on the type and stage of the cancer there are two types of radiation therapy, external and internal. As the name suggests external radiation therapy involves using a machine outside the body to send radiation towards the cancer.
Internal radiation therapy is a process that places radioactive substances directly into or near the cancer with the help of needles, wires, seeds or catheters.
In chemotherapy drugs are used to either kill the cancer cells or stop them from dividing and in doing so this treatment prevents the further growth of cancer cells. The type and stage of cancer is determined before chemotherapy is administered. In systemic chemotherapy drugs are taken orally or transmitted into a vein or muscle with the help of injection.
Once in the bloodstream the drugs then attack the cancer cells throughout the body. Regional chemotherapy is administered directly in those areas where the cancer is located like any organ or a body cavity.
Hormone therapy is yet another form of breast cancer treatment that eliminates hormones or makes them inactive and in this way prevents cancer cells from growing. Hormones are produced by glands and released into the bloodstream. Amongst them some hormones could lead to the growth of certain cancers.
Sometimes tests may reveal places in cancer cells where hormones can attach and in that scenario drugs, surgery or radiation is used to suppress the further production of hormones or make them inactive altogether.
The hormone estrogen is produced by the ovaries and is responsible for the growth of some breast cancers. To prevent the ovaries from producing any more of these estrogens a treatment called ovarian ablation is administered.
Targeted therapy identifies and counters cancer cells specifically without causing any harm to normal cells. Targeted therapies are two types that are generally used for the treatment of breast cancer – Monoclonal antibodies and Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors. Monoclonal antibody therapy makes use of antibodies prepared in laboratory using single immune system cell. These antibodies are capable of recognizing those substances that could lead to further growth of cancer cells. They then attach themselves to those substances and kill them. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors are drugs that block signals needed for tumors to grow.
Photo Credit : http://www.cancer.gov/images/cdr/live/CDR415523-750.jpg