1. What is Breast Cancer
  2. Early Detection
  3. Treatment
  4. BSE (Women)
  5. BSE (Men)
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What is Breast Cancer

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WHAT IS BREAST CANCER?

Cancer is a broad term for a class of diseases characterized by abnormal cells that grow and invade healthy cells in the body. Breast cancer starts in the cells of the breast as a group of cancer cells that can then invade surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body.

FACTS:

> One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
> Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
> Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women.
> Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,150 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 410 will die each year.
> Breast cancer is not contagious; you can't contract cancer from a person who has the disease.
> Breast cancer is not caused by wearing underwire bras, implants, deodorants, antiperspirants, mammograms, caffeine, plastic food serving items, microwaves, or cell phones, as myths often suggest.

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Early Detection

SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS

  • - A change in how the breast or nipple feels
  • - A change in the breast or nipple appearance
  • - Any nipple discharge; particularly clear discharge or bloody discharge
  • Breast Self Exam (BSE)

     

    Clinical Breast Exam

    During a clinical breast exam, your healthcare provider checks your breasts' appearance. You may be asked to raise your arms over your head, let them hang by your sides, or press your hands against your hips. These postures allow your healthcare provider to look for differences in size or shape between your breasts. The skin covering your breasts is checked for any rash, dimpling, or other abnormal signs. Your nipples may be checked to see if fluid is expressed when lightly squeezed.

    Mammogram

    A mammogram is an x-ray that allows a qualified specialist to examine the breast tissue for any suspicious areas. The breast is exposed to a small dose of iodizing radiation that produces an image of the breast tissue. Mammograms can often show a breast lump before it can be felt. They also can show tiny clusters of calcium called microcalcifications. Lumps or specks can be caused by cancer, fatty cells, or other conditions like cysts. Further tests are needed to find out if abnormal cells are present.

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    Treatment

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    SURGERY

    The first step and most common form of treatment for breast cancer is surgery. Surgery involves removing the tumor and nearby margins. The margin is the surrounding tissue that might be cancerous. The goal of surgery is to remove not only the tumor, but also enough of the margin to be able to test for the spread of the cancer. Once the removed tissue is checked, your post-operative report should tell you if you had "clear margins," (meaning the tissue farthest away from the breast was free of any cancer cells.)

    Some people with Stage 2 or Stage 3 cancer may receive chemotherapy first, which is known as "pre-operative " or "neoadjuvant*" chemotherapy. The goal is to shrink the tumor. By making it smaller first, you may have the option of a breast-conserving surgery or lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy.

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    CHEMOTHERAPY

    Chemotherapy is a treatment method that uses a combination of drugs to either destroy cancer cells or slow down the growth of cancer cells.

    Cytotoxic drugs (meaning "toxic to cells") are usually given orally or through a vein (intravenously or "through the bloodstream"). Chemotherapy is a systemic therapy, meaning that the drugs travel in the bloodstream throughout the entire body.


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    RADIATION THERAPY

    Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It affects cells only in the part of the body that is treated with the radiation. Breast cancer radiation therapy may be used to destroy any remaining mutated cells that remain in the breast or armpit area after surgery.

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    Breast Self Examination - For Women

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    Before you get started, pick one motion you will use every time you perform your monthly breast self examination. This makes it easier for you to detect any changes in your breast.

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    Place a pillow under your right shoulder. Place your right hand behind your head. Use the inner pads of the three middle fingers of your left hand (see red circle in the diagram).
    Feel for any changes in your breast, above and below your collarbone and your armpit area (like a lump or a hard node or skin thinking). Now repeat the same procedure for the left breast.


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    Place your right hand behind your head. Use the three middle fingers of your left hand while feeling your right breast. Inspect all the areas of your breast, chest and collarbone just like you did when lying down (see the red outlined box). Repeat the same procedure for the left breast using your right hand.


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    Arms held over your head. Check your breast for any change in size, shape and color.

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    Arms pressed against the hips and bending forward, check your breasts for puckering, dimpling, rash, nipple discharge or retraction or any other change that does not look and feel normal.

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    Breast Self Examination - For Men

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    Breast Self Examination for men is easy and simple. Although Breast Cancer in men is rare, it is advisable to perform breast self examination regularly. Pick one motion to use every time you conduct your BSE, it makes it easier for you to detect any changes in your breast.

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    Stand in front of the mirror and look at the skin for any changes including lump, swelling, dimpling or puckering. Look straight ahead; move to the right and to the left and back to the centre.

     

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    Slowly raise your arms above your head, again looking for skin changes dimpling or puckering. Move to the right and to the left. Bring your hands on your hips. Flex your pectoral muscle again looking for dimpling or puckering or skin changes. Move to right and to the left.

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    Lie on your back (or stand still). Use your right hand to examine your left breast and vice versa. Place your left hand under your head and bring your right hand to the armpit area to examine your left breast.

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    Use three pressures: light, medium and deep dime sized circles. Continue to move down the chest in light, medium and deep circular moves. Repeat the moves till you cover the whole breast. Squeeze the nipple to observe the discharge of any fluid.

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