Understanding Breast Cancer: Types, Treatment, and Side Effects – A Comprehensive Guide

2023-10-03 13:32:00
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This malignant disease claimed more than 685,000 women in 2020. It is worth noting that many women do not have sufficient information about it. On the occasion of this month, a newspaper was published “The Guardian” A detailed article containing information you should know about breast cancer.

There are many different types of breast cancer

In the article, the writer, Halerie Osban, who also had breast cancer, explains that when she had a biopsy, she discovered that breast cancer has many types, and points out that “many searches led me to information about ductal carcinoma in situ, which is early breast cancer that has not spread.” Yet, the truth was that I had “stage 3” or “triple negative” cancer.

Speaking to The Guardian, Professor Richard Simcock, chief medical officer at Macmillan Cancer Support, explains that there are four categories used to describe breast cancer and determine the treatment a person needs. First, doctors will talk about the source of the disease’s development, usually coming from the milk ducts (ductal) or glands (lobular), and then look at the number and size of the tumors, to study how quickly the cancer cells are growing. He adds: “The third degree is the most aggressive and the most likely.” To spread. Finally, cancer cells are evaluated according to their sensitivity.”

In Ospan’s case, “negative” cells mean that drugs, such as tamoxifen, will have no effect.

For her part, Macmillan genomics expert Antigone Johnston believes that “women often compare themselves to their neighbors or friends who also have breast cancer, but perhaps they do not have the same type. They may say that one of their friends had breast cancer, but we have to make clear that Their condition may be different.”

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Treatment is not the same for everyone

For Ospan, her treatment revolved around chemotherapy, surgery, and then radiation therapy, but there is a difference in the order of treatments, and perhaps some of them can be dispensed with. So don’t be afraid to ask why your doctor suggests certain treatments, or even foregoes them.

The term “chemotherapy” means a lot of different things.

The word chemotherapy includes a large number of medications that are used in a variety of ways. Chemotherapy can include just taking a booster pill, or sitting in the hospital to receive medications intravenously.

As for Ospan, her chemotherapy treatment focused on two drugs, paclitaxel and carboplatin. In parallel, I resorted to other medications such as epirubicin and cyclophosphamide (known as EC). “After my first dose, subsequent treatments were reduced,” she says. “Other types of breast cancer require different medications, and people may tell you they have dealt with emergency contraception but taking paclitaxel was more difficult.”

You can keep your hair

One of the worst side effects of many of the chemotherapy drugs used to treat breast cancer is hair loss. Ospan pointed out, “I lose hair within about three weeks, and it will not grow again until after the end of treatment. This is what the oncologist told me, before I started my treatment. The available intervention is a cooling cap.”

(Picture of cooling cap)

This hat cools the scalp while receiving chemotherapy and protects the follicles from receiving too much medication. It’s awful, you spend hours suffering from the worst brain freeze headache of your life, and as your hair falls out, which in many cases happens before the treatment is finished, it becomes even more painful. “But for Ospan, it was worth it. She was able to keep most of her hair during her first dose of EC (the combination of epirubicin and cyclophosphamide), but after a week of treatment, it started falling out.”

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You should still be careful if you have a mastectomy

A mastectomy removes most of the breast tissue, while preserving some of it, and this means there is a chance that the cancer will come back. Radiation therapy reduces the risks further, and there are medications and other treatments specifically designed to treat stuck cancer cells and prevent them from developing in the future. Even with all this, the fear of repetition still remains.

Pay attention to the lymph nodes

The armpit contains more than forty lymph nodes, and when you have a lump in your breast, doctors will ask to examine it, because if the cancer has spread, this is usually its first point of contact, and if it is cancer, you will have to remove them all. Even if not, doctors will usually take some out for examination. It is worth noting that you should inform doctors if you have recently been infected with the Corona virus or influenza before undergoing the examination, as the lymph nodes may be swollen.

Chemotherapy may lead to menopause

Sometimes doctors try to put you in menopause, as 80 percent of breast cancer cases are sensitive to estrogen, and when they control the ovaries, they try to prevent the tumor from growing and spreading. For people with triple negative symptoms, this process is another side effect.

For her part, expert Johnston Burt confirms that some people suffer from “several symptoms, in addition to joint pain and night sweats that can be a problem.”

Professor Simcock adds: “It can be difficult to tell patients that they cannot have hormone replacement therapy because it may lead to the cancer coming back.”

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