Breast Cancer: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Post Treatment Care

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Getting diagnosed with breast cancer seems like a death sentence for many but fortunately, there are now various drugs and medical treatments available to eradicate and keep the disease under control. Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women and this is the reason why the medical community is continuously finding cures for patients.

Symptoms

Common symptoms of the disease include:

– General changes in the appearance and feel of the breast or nipples
– Lumps or thickening on breasts or underarm area
– Unusual tenderness in the nipples
– Change in breast size and shape
– Inward appearance of the nipple
– Changes in the skin of the breast and nipples
– Nipple discharge

Early symptoms do not usually include pain but this does not mean that you can forego an immediate appointment with your doctor. You should see your doctor right away to find out if your symptoms are really caused by breast cancer.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will probably ask about your family and personal medical history and conduct a physical exam. Procedures such as mammogram are common tools for diagnosis. You may also have to go through ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging and biopsy to find out what you have.

Treatment

There are various treatment options for breast cancer. The type of treatment that you will need largely depends on what stage of the disease you are in. Treatments are either local or systemic therapy. Surgery and radiation are local therapies while chemotherapy and hormone therapy are classified as systemic therapies. Some of the treatments include:

– Surgery
You can have breast-sparing surgery and mastectomy, which removes the breast completely.

– Radiation therapy
This makes use of high-energy rays to kill the cancer cells. When radiation therapy will be given to you will depend on the size of the tumor, among other factors.

– Chemotherapy
This treatment uses anti-cancer drugs to eliminate cancer cells. It is usually a combination of drugs that can be taken orally or through injection. Chemotherapy can cause adverse effects such as hair loss, weakened immune system and nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Your doctor can suggest ways to control these side effects.

Post-treatment Care

You will undergo constant monitoring after your treatment. The cancer cells may have been eliminated completely or the disease can return because there are cells that have not been detected yet. You will be asked to undergo follow-up exams to determine if you are completely cured of breast cancer or not.

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