WHAT IS BREAST CANCER?
Breast cancer is a type of cancer which invades the cells and tissues of the breast. It occurs predominantly in Women with a rare occurence in men. Breast cancer formation starts either in the lobules or ducts of the breast. Breast cancer is the most dangerous and invasive form of cancer in females and when not treated timely and properly can be lethal.
Thankfully, due to Medical advancements in the treatment and early detection of Breast cancer, there has been a decline in the death rates.
What are the stages of Breast Cancer?
There are 5 major stages in the development of breast cancer but all of which should only be inferred by a Doctor after physical evaluation, Mammogram and other diagnostic imaging. Do not attempt to self diagnose or presume any of these. The 5 stages are;
Stage 0; Here, the abnormal cells may have formed but not spread to the surrounding tissues
Early Stage/Stage I; The cancer may have spread to a small section of the surrounding tissues.
Localized Stage/Stage II; A tumor between 20-50mm in size will have been formed which may and may not involve the lymph nodes.
Regional Spread/Stage III; The tumour formed will be larger than 50mm in diameter involving the lymph nodes and spread towards the chest region. In some cases the tumor of the bodyr will no longer be present and metamorphed into full blown cancer.
Distant Spread/Stage IV; The cancer would have spread from beyond the breasts to other parts of the body.
What Causes Breast cancer?
Breast cancer predominantly arises when some cells begin to grow, divide and multiply abnormally leading the formation of a "lump". These cells then continue to rapidly spread throughout the breast, lymph nodes and in more severe cases throughout the body. A few researches points to that a person may be affected by cancer largely due to the following risk factors;
1. Genetic makeup/ genetic mutations
2. Environmental factors
4. Lifestyle habits and diets
6. Exposure to certain kinds of radiations
7. Obesity and weight problems
9. Previous Medical history such as breast conditions
What are the Symptoms of Breast cancer
If you experience any or all of the following symptoms, please seek for a Medical examination immediately. Some of the symptoms may include;
1. Orange skin (when you notice pitting of the skin around your breast causing it to look like an orange
2. Change in the shape, appearance and size of the breast
3. If you feel a lump or abnormal mass that is quite different from the surrounding tissues
4. Scaling, crusting and flaking around the nipples
5. Nipple invertion
Breast cancer treatment in Nigeria
Breast cancer treatment would usually depend on the stage of the cancer but major forms of treatment are;
1. Medical Procedures
2. Surgical treatment
In Some cases, a combination therapy of two or more of these treatment options is used to fully combat the cancer.
Medical Procedures; employs the use of radiation therapy(radiotherapy) and teletherapy.
Medications; involves the use of Oestrogen Modulators, chemotherapy
Surgical treatment; These include tissue expansion, lymph node disection, lumpectomy and masectomy.
Radiotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that focuses on the use of beams in high doses by radiation to shrink and destroy growing cancer cells and tumours. This is done by targetting the affected areas. This is safely delievered by a radio machine that bombards the targetted area with invisible rays.
Chemotherapy is a standardised treatment that involves an aggresive use of anti-cancer drugs to destroy the cancer cells in the body. It targets the cancer calls at the point of growth and rapid cell division and in some cases slows down the growth of tumours.
Lumpectomy (Breast lump removal surgery)
Lumpectomy is the surgical procedure to remove the lump (tumor) and any other surrounding unhealthy tissues. Unlike Masectomy which removes the entire breast, Lumpectomy focuses on the removal of the lump and infected tissues and hence can be referred to as Breast conserving surgery.
Cancer treatment by Masectomy
A Mastectomy is a type of surgery performed to remove the breast. A masectomy is usually employed as a means to eradicate breast cancer by taking out the affected tissues in the breast or sometimes the whole breast in some cases. A masectomy may also be carried out as a pre-emptive measure for people who may likely be affected by breast cancer due to past experiences, medical history and a combination of other factors.
Certain types of masectomy may remove only a part of the breast tissue while some other types are very extensive.
What are the different types of Masectomy?
The most common mastectomies are;
1. Simple (or total) mastectomy
2. Radical mastectomy
3. Modified radical mastectomy
Others include the skin sparing masectomy, nipple sparing masectomy and double masectomy.
During a simple mastectomy, the breast tissues (lobules, ducts, and fatty tissue) and the nipple are taken out. This surgery most often may require a hospital stay.
This is described as the most comprehensive type of masectomy. This surgical process involves the removal of the entire breast, the axillary lymph nodes as well as the pectoral muscles. This is done for cases of very large tumours or where the cancer has spread towards the underlying muscles.
Modified Radical Mastectomy
This type of mastectomy is normally done to treat invasive cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes (under the arm). it involves the removal of the overlying skin, the nipple and the areola. In more serious cases, a part of the chest wall muscle may also be taken out.
Nipple Sparing Mastectomy
A Nipple sparing masectomy is done to preserve the nipple, external skin and areola. This is usually done for improved aesthetics after treatment.
Skin Sparing Mastectomy
In skin sparing masectomy, the breast skin is preserved and reconstructed while the nipple, areola as well as the affected tissues will be taken out.
Why is Masectomy done?
A Masectomy surgery is done mostly as a means to treat early stages of breast cancer and also as a preventive measure. A masectomy is usually done in cases where a lumpectomy cannot be carried out. A lumpectomy also known as breast conserving surgery is done to remove the tumour from the breast in the earliest stage of infection.
A masectomy treatment is done to treat different types of cancers including ductal carcinoma (DCIS), stages 1 and 11 early stages of breast cancer, stage 111 breast cancer (after chemotherapy may have been carried out) and locally recurrent breast cancer.
Masectomy may be best recommended taking into consideration options like
1. The number and location of tumours
2. Recurrence of the breast cancer even after treatment by radiation.
3. Pregnancy; hence chemotherapy may pose a risk to the unborn child
4. Persistence of the cancer even after lumpectomy
5. High risk factors such as genetic mutation that puts one at high risk of developing breast cancer
6. Other prevalent medical condtions such as Sclerodema, connective tissue diseases or lupus.
However be the case, getting a masectomy done should be under medical advise after the necessary evaluation.
What is the cost of Breast cancer treatment in Nigeria?
The cost of Breast cancer treatment depends on various factors such as
1. The treatment option chosen (Surgery, chemo or radiotherapy)
2. The stage of the cancer
3. Location of the hospital
4. Choice hospital
5. Duration of treatment
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. How much does a masectomy cost in Nigeria?
This depends on the type of masectomy,location of the hospital,reason for masectomy,stage of cancer,Surgeon and duration of stay at the hospital.
2. Is Breast cancer common in Nigeria?
Studies have shown that Women of all races and ethnicities can infact be affected by breast cancer but in Nigeria, Most breast cancers in women are usually detected at the late stages hence the high fatality rates as there used to be considerably little awareness on early detection.
3. What is the most common type of cancer in Nigeria?
Cervical cancers and breast cancers are prominent in females while prostrate cancer is dominant in Men.
4. How much does breast cancer treatment cost in Nigeria?
Breast cancer treatment costs are varied from hospital to hospital and usually depends upon various factors like type of treatment, duration of treatment, hospital and it's location and Specialists/Surgeon involved in treatment.
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