Breast cancer can affect anyone, including men!
But, what is breast cancer?
It is when the breast cells start to grow or divide abnormally. These cells can form a breast tumor or cyst that can be felt as a lump or seen through ultrasound and mammograms. The tumor becomes cancerous if it grows inside surrounding tissue and/or if it spreads throughout other body areas (metastasis).
• On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer and 1 woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes.
Breast Cancer Facts. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-facts
The American Cancer Society estimates that by 2018 there will be 266,120 new cases of breast cancer in the U.S. and 18,260 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in Texas. An early diagnosis can allow a shorter treatment, a lower mortality risk, and save lives. Minimally invasive breast surgery in Texas is possible thanks to the breast cancer specialist Vineet Choudhry, MD FACS.
How can the patient know if he/she has breast cancer?
• Feeling a lump, node or mass on one of the breasts that can be painless or feel painful to touch. These protuberances can be round or irregular.
• Swelling of a part of the breast or the entire breast, even if no lump is felt.
• Skin irritation
• Irregular appearance on the breast skin, especially dimpling (similar to the appearance of cellulite and/or orange skin).
• Breast, areola, or nipple pain.
• Nipple discharge that is not breast milk.
• An inverted or retracted nipple (a nipple that faces inward).
• Color change, especially redness.
• Scaliness or thickening of any part of the breast or the entire breast.
• Swollen lymph nodes felt around armpits and close to the collarbone.
Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/about/breast-cancer-signs-and-symptoms.html
What can the patient do to reduce the risk of breast cancer?
• The patient should always look for any changes in the appearance or feeling of his/her breasts through a monthly self-exam beginning at age 18, especially for females, and immediately report them to his/her physician as soon as possible.
• Getting an annual mammogram beginning at age 40 is a must!
• Living a relaxed lifestyle, and trying meditation techniques to reduce stress.
• Getting the BRCA1 and BRCA2 Genetic test.
• Eating a diet full of natural sources without added sugars and lots of vegetables, legumes and lean protein. Moreover, consuming natural alkaline food sources reduce acidity in the body. Additionally, an antioxidant-rich diet has been scientifically proven as anticancer. On the other hand, something important to emphasize is that processed and red meats have been classified as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization, so they should be avoided.
• Exercising regularly.
• Maintaining a Body Mass Index between 18.5 and 25.
• Having children before age 30 to have a slightly reduced breast cancer risk compared to women who have kids after age 30.
• Breastfeeding children.
• Using sunscreen. Avoiding sun exposure aids to avoid the development of new common moles, since more than 50 common moles in the body have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
• “There’s some evidence that hormonal contraception, which includes birth control pills and intrauterine devices (IUDs) that release hormones, increases the risk of breast cancer.”
What can I do to reduce my risk of breast cancer?. (2017, December 19). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/breast-cancer-prevention/art-20044676?pg=2)
Breast cancer treatments and surgery do not necessarily need to be aggressive to be effective. Vineet Choudhry, MD FACS is a breast cancer specialist in Texas and he offers many minimally invasive breast cancer treatments to his patients.
It’s a procedure to determine if a breast lump or breast area is cancerous. A sample of the suspicious tissue is removed for further examination.
If the doctor can feel the lump, he would insert a large needle and draw the lump sample inwards through suction.
Stereotactic Core Biopsy
If the suspicious breast tissue cannot be felt but can be seen through a mammogram, MRI or an ultrasound, the patient would have to lay down facing up and a radiologist would take a sample of the suspicious tissue through the guidance of a special mammogram machine that uses X-rays using a hollow needle.
If the suspicious breast tissue cannot be felt but can be seen through a mammogram, MRI or an ultrasound, the physician can use high-frequency sound waves to capture live images of the suspicious tissue and remove a sample through a hollow needle for an examination under a microscope.
It is used to remove a suspicious lump entirely or partly, so it can be checked to determine if it contains cancerous cells in it.
There are 2 types of surgical biopsies:
1. An incisional biopsy removes only a part of the abnormal area to make a diagnosis.
2. An excisional biopsy removes the entire lump or suspicious area. A section of the normal breast tissue around the lump may be taken for examination, too, depending on the reason for the biopsy.
In Texas, if the patient develops the disease and the breast cancer specialist determines there is a need for breast surgery, there are several treatment options, such as lumpectomy, mastectomy, traditional axillary lymph node dissection, sentinel lymph node dissection, and cryoablation.
“It is a procedure performed to treat breast cancer by removing the entire breast through surgery. It’s often done when a woman cannot undergo breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy), which spares most of the breast tissue. It can also be done if a woman chooses a mastectomy over breast-conserving surgery for personal reasons. Women at very high risk of getting cancer for the second time sometimes choose to have a double mastectomy, which implies the removal of both breasts.”
Mastectomy. (2017, September 13). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/treatment/surgery-for-breast-cancer/mastectomy.html
A lumpectomy is a form of “breast-conserving” surgery that aims to preserve the breast by removing the tumor and some of the tissue that surrounds it. But the amount of tissue removed can vary greatly depending on the case. The majority of women who have the possibility to choose between mastectomy or lumpectomy, prefer lumpectomy since it is less invasive. This procedure can be performed using the Da Vinci system. This novel type of breast surgery in Texas is performed with a less invasive penetration than traditional surgery procedures, therefore it reduces side effects, the risk of cutaneous flap necrosis, infections, postoperative pain, minimizes scarring and increases the quality of life due to its fast recovery. This option ensures that patients who are not eligible for breast-conserving surgery can opt for a nipple preserving mastectomy and immediate breast reconstruction depending on their case.
Traditional Axillary Lymph Node Dissection
A lymph is a clear fluid that contains white cells and travels through the body’s arteries, circulates through tissues to cleanse them, and then drains them through the lymphatic system. Lymph nodes are the filters along the lymphatic system. Their job is to filter and trap bacteria, viruses, cancer cells and other unwanted substances.
A traditional axillary lymph node dissection usually removes the nodes situated below the lower edge of the pectoralis minor muscle and underneath the pectoralis minor muscle. This type of breast surgery accompanies a mastectomy. It can be done at the same time or after a lumpectomy (through a separate incision).
Sentinel Lymph Node Dissection
Sentinel lymph node dissection is an alternative to traditional axillary lymph node dissection, in which the surgeon searches for the first lymph node that filters the fluid drainage from the breast area that contains cancerous cells. If the cancer cells detach from the tumor and move away from the breast through the lymphatic system, a pathologist will carefully examine them for any cancer signs.
It’s an ambulatory procedure that does not require general anesthesia and uses extreme cold to get rid of cancerous tumors through a cryoprobe. A cryoprobe is a thin needle that resembles a pen and it penetrates the skin getting directly to the tumor and freezing it. Once the tissue is frozen, the tumor cells die and the body reabsorbs the tissue since it is perceived as a foreign body. The immune response generated after the procedure aids the body to fight additional cancer cells. However, cryoablation should only be performed on patients that have small and unifocal tumors that are not larger than 15mm. Patients who are ideal candidates for cryoablation must be between 50-70 years of age.