One of the worst fears of many women is being diagnosed with breast cancer. However, it does not have to be a death sentence. Advances in medicine and technology mean that there are more tools to fight the disease than ever before. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of breast cancer so treatment can start as early as possible.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer include general swelling and irritation of the skin. Red, scaly skin is not uncommon in women with breast cancer. General pain in the nipples or the breast itself is also a sign the disease is present. If a woman is not nursing but there is bloody or clear discharge from her nipple, breast cancer may be the reason for it. A swollen collarbone can also be a sign of the disease, as can swelling under one's arm. In some cases, a lump will form under the collarbone. In other cases, the disease may be present if a woman's breast size suddenly changes. This can occur in one or both breasts. These are all signs and symptoms that should raise a red flag during an at home breast exam.
The top three treatments for breast cancer are chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy. Each one has its merits in treating the disease. Chemotherapy can be used both before and after surgery. Before the surgery, it works to reduce the size of the tumors. It can also be effective in treating cancer that has already spread. The key is for doctors to be able to determine how the cancer will react to the chemo. When chemotherapy is given before and after surgery, it sometimes lowers a woman's risk of having the disease return. In advanced cases of breast cancer, certain medications are prescribed to patients. Most women with the disease must take two or three different medications together to help fight it off successfully.
In certain types of breast cancer, the blood is affected. This is when doctors choose to use hormone therapy as a treatment method. Hormone therapy is also referred to as systematic therapy. It works to reach cancer cells that have moved beyond a woman's breasts. In most cases, this type of therapy is not given until surgery has been completed. However, it can also be given prior to surgery. It is a long term treatment method, as most women undergo hormone therapy for five years. As a result, it is used to create recurring breast cancer in a woman. Hormone therapy can take several different forms. In general, it works to lower the levels of estrogen. It also can prevent the estrogen from targeting cells carrying breast cancer.
Targeted therapy is often used when chemotherapy has proven ineffective. The side effects differ from those that chemotherapy causes. These can include heart damage that may end up causing congestive heart failure. Though the side effects disappear after women stop the targeted therapy it can cause concern in the meantime. This type of therapy often works to improve the results of hormone therapy.
In conclusion, people who notice any sign or symptom of breast cancer should see a doctor immediately. The key to recovering from the disease is to be aware of when one may be at risk.