Women, be proactive, get a screening test (mammography) for breast cancer done annually. Consult with Dr. Sandeep Nayak at MACs Clinic, one of Bangalore’s best cancer treatment hospitals.

Breast Cancer:

Cancer that forms in the breast cells is termed breast cancer. Abnormal growth of cells results in forming painless lumps. Only when cancer progresses will you start experiencing pain; this is the later stage.

1 in 4 women in India gets diagnosed with breast cancer. Only 60% of them survive. In 2018 a report of breast cancer statistics recorded 1,62,468 new cases registered, of which there were 87090 deaths.

By the time the women get diagnosed, the cancer is in its 3rd or 4th stage. At this stage, survival is rare.

Breast cancer is most common in women, but even men can get it.

It can start in one breast or both and be malignant or non-malignant.

Non-malignant lumps do not spread outside the breast and are not life-threatening. However, it does increase the chance of a woman getting breast cancer.

It is best to approach an oncologist to figure out the malignancy.

Dr. Sandeep Nayak is a leading oncologist and has founded MACs Clinic, one of the best cancer treatment hospitals in Bangalore.

Macs Clinic for cancer is a state-of-the-art cancer treatment center where the latest in technology robotic and laparoscopic cancer surgery is facilitated.

Dr. Nayak himself is a surgical oncologist with a fellowship in robotic cancer surgery.

He has carefully chosen his team of doctors to make the entire experience of facing cancer as comfortable as can be.

Where do breast cancers begin?

Breast cancer can begin in different parts of the breast. The breast is made up of different parts as follows:

Lobules: These are the glands that make breast milk. Cancers that begin here are called lobules cancers.

Ducts: Ducts are canals that carry the milk from the lobules to the nipple. Breast cancer is known to start here commonly. These are called ductal cancers.

Nipple: Ducts come together at the nipple where the canals broaden so that the milk can leave the breast. The nipple is surrounded by areola, the darker, thicker skin.

Cancer that starts at the nipple is called Paget disease of the breast and is rare.

Fat and connective tissue: the ducts and lobules are supported by the fat and connective tissue. Cancer that starts here is called Phyllodes tumor. This, too, is rare.

Blood Vessels and Lymph vessels: Angiosarcoma starts in the lining of these vessels. Again a rare occurrence.

Other than these, some cancers start in other tissues of the breast. They are called sarcomas and lymphomas and are not exactly considered breast cancer.

Breast cancers are also classified by the type of protein or gene it tests for in the biopsy. The biopsy is carried out to look for estrogen and progesterone receptors and the HER2 gene.

The specific proteins found in the biopsy results can help us identify the stage of the tumor.

How does breast cancer spread?

Breast cancer spreads when the cancerous cells enter the blood vessels or the lymph system and are taken to other body parts.

The lymphatic system is made of small glands called the lymph nodes, the ducts, and the organs that work to collect and carry the lymphatic fluid to the blood through the body tissues.

The lymphatic fluid normally carries the tissue by-products and the waste material. It also carries the immune system cells.

These vessels drain into the lymph nodes:

  • Under the arm (axillary lymph nodes)
  • Inside the chest near the breastbone (internal mammary)
  • Around the collar bone.

When cancer enters the lymph nodes, it travels through the lymphatic system spreading to other parts of your body.

Not every cancer of the lymph node is malignant.

What are the risk factors, and how can we prevent cancer?

Understanding the risk factors may help us prevent the disease to a certain extent.

Heredity and aging are factors that you can hardly control. Still, other factors can be controlled like our lifestyle, e.g., alcohol consumption, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, no children or late childbirth, not breastfeeding, birth control, HRT, and breast implants.

Factors beyond our control are ethnicity, age, family history of breast cancer, dense breast tissue, early menstruation, late menopause, and radiation to the chest.

How is breast cancer detected?

Breast cancer is detected by imaging tests like mammography, breast MRI, Breast sonography, and other new technologies.

If abnormalities are detected in these tests, then the tissue is collected and sent for biopsy.

The result determines the course of treatment, says Dr. Sandeep Nayak.

How is Breast cancer treated?

The treatment plan depends entirely on how much cancer has metastasized.

Localized treatment.

Treatment localized to the affected area, such as surgery and radiation, is one option. If cancer has spread, then other treatments may be combined to treat.

Systemic Treatment:

Drugs given to treat cancer are called systemic treatment. These may include chemotherapy for breast cancer, targeted drug therapy for breast cancer, immunotherapy for breast cancer, and hormone therapy.

These are available in injectable forms, oral medicines, or IV’s.

Treatment of cancer by stages:

The stage of your breast cancer is a major deciding factor for planning your treatment. If it is widespread, you will have to undergo many treatments, but there are other deciding factors.

These are:

If the cancer cell has hormone receptors, HER2 protein, gene mutation, your overall health, menopause, the rate of cancer growth, and if it affects other organs like lungs and liver.

Speak with Dr. Sandeep Nayak for guidance.

Stage 0: these cancers are limited to the milk duct (ductal carcinoma). Lobular is no longer counted in cancers, but it stands a high cancer risk.

Stages I-III: the treatment plan normal includes surgery and radiation, combined with chemotherapy or other drug therapies.

Stage I: relatively small, either not spread to the lymph or, if spread, affected just the sentinel lymph node.

Stage II: Larger and have spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Stage III: larger and grown into nearby tissues and spread to many lymph nodes.

Stage IV: Cancer has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to different body parts. These cancers are considered incurable. However, the women are given systemic treatment, which shrinks the tumors and helps the woman live a little longer.

Treatment of stage IV cancer is extensive and needs another article itself.

But to summarize what’s written so far, take good care of your health, eat well, exercise well, do not smoke and drink, and get screening tests done annually.