Breast cancer is treated on a case-by-case basisBreast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women. Reasons for seeking an evaluation include retraction of the nipple or breast skin, pain or a lump in the breast. The majority of localised breast cancers are asymptomatic at the time of diagnosis.
DiagnosisA suspicion of breast cancer is most commonly confirmed with a needle biopsy taken in connection with a mammography and/or ultrasound examination or with an MRI.
The evaluations required to assess the stage (spread) of breast cancer depend on the properties of the primary tumour, the status of axillary lymph nodes, and the patient’s symptoms. A full-body CT scan and a bone scan are key assessments if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
Read more on breast MRI
Surgery is the first treatment for localised breast cancer. A small tumour can be excised using a breast-conserving surgical technique. In more advanced cases, mastectomy (removal of the breast) is necessary. The breast may be reconstructed during the same operation or after other treatments, depending on the individual case. If the characteristics of the tumour indicate an increased risk of cancer recurrence, adjuvant treatments are recommended to minimise this risk.
The pathologist will examine the excised tumour material in detail to determine the cancer type. The risk of breast cancer recurrence and the choice of treatment depend on characteristics such as the malignancy grade, the presence of hormone receptors on the cell surface, cell division rate, and the possible expression of HER-2 protein.
Typing may show the tumour to be a low-risk type of cancer with a good prognosis. On the other hand, an aggressive, high-risk cancer has a poor prognosis and is likely to spread at an early stage. In such cases the risk of recurrence remains high even after successful surgery.
After breast-conserving surgery, radiotherapy of the breast is required in practically all cases. Radiotherapy significantly reduces local recurrence rates and prolongs survival. If cancer cells are observed in the lymph nodes, radiotherapy of the armpit and the supraclavicular fossa is also recommended.
After the treatments, regular follow-up is important. At Docrates Hospital, follow-up visits are always arranged with the patient’s own physician according to an individualised schedule. At Docrates Hospital, further assessments can be arranged immediately, should the patient have any symptoms or concerns requiring evaluation.
Read more on breast cancer surgery
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