Breast cancer may require different types of treatment
Successfully treating breast cancer means getting the cancer under control or getting rid of it for a long time. But because breast cancer is made up of many different types of cancer cells, different types of treatments may be needed to get rid of all of these cells.
How does breast cancer develop?
Breast cancer develops as a result of uncontrolled proliferation of cells in normal breast tissue. As cancer cells multiply to form a tumor, they keep changing and gradually differentiate from each other. As a cancerous mass grows, new and different breast cancer cells form within the same cancer. Over time, the resulting mix of cells becomes increasingly complex. So even though every cell of a cancer is related to the same original “parent” cell, not all cells that make up cancer are the same.
The presence of different cell types in a cancer is called ‘tumor heterogeneity’. Each cancer has its own genetic identity, or fingerprint, created by the DNA in its cells. So two breast cancer patients of the same age, height, weight, and ethnicity and with similar medical histories almost certainly have two different cancers. The one common point of cancers is that they started from a breast tissue cell. Differences in cancer cells are why two people with breast cancer can have completely different treatment plans.
The treatment plan for breast cancer is created based on the type, size, stage, and grade of the cancer and whether the cancer cells are sensitive to hormones. In addition, the patient’s general health and preferences should be taken into account.
What you need to know about breast cancer treatment
Recent years have witnessed the development of many promising and exciting breast cancer treatments. In this way, instead of a few treatment options today, there are many treatment options that are personalized according to the characteristics of the patient and the cancer. Among these options, the fact that there are many possibilities requiring patient decision and choice can be challenging and confusing at times. To help you with this, it is very important that you determine which doctor will always assist you during the treatment process, who you can easily reach, consult and trust.
In fact, it takes a team of experts, such as breast surgeon, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, plastic surgeon, genetic counselor, who work together to plan and apply the most appropriate treatment. The responsibility for bringing this team together, coordinating it and guiding the patient usually lies with the breast surgeon who sees the patient first.
What methods are available in the treatment of breast cancer?
The first treatment for breast cancer is often surgical. The patient and breast surgeon will decide together which of the various surgical treatment options is most appropriate. There are two main options for surgical treatment: complete breast removal (mastectomy) and breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) followed by radiotherapy.
Lumpectomy (removal of the cancerous mass in the breast)
It can also be expressed as breast conserving surgery or wide local excision. During lumpectomy, the cancerous mass and a small amount of surrounding healthy breast tissue are removed.
Mastectomy (removal of the whole breast)
Mastectomy is an operation in which all breast tissue is removed. If the ipsilateral axillary lymph nodes are removed along with the breast tissue, “modified radical mastectomy”; If the axillary lymph nodes are not removed, only the breast tissue is removed, this is called a “simple mastectomy.”
Apart from this, newer mastectomy techniques such as “skin-sparing mastectomy” and “nipple-sparing mastectomy” may be used in selected cases to improve the appearance of the breast and allow for reconstructive treatments.
In patients with breast cancer, a “sentinel lymph node biopsy” or “axillary lymph node dissection” is performed during lumpectomy and mastectomy to determine whether the cancer has spread to the axillary lymph nodes. Sentinel lymph node biopsy is a much more limited procedure and causes far fewer postoperative problems. The sentinel node is one or more lymph nodes where the lymph flow from the tumor first goes. If no cancer is found in the sentinel nodes, there is little chance of finding cancer in the remaining lymph nodes, so there is no need to remove the other lymph nodes. If cancer is discovered in the sentinel nodes, it will probably be necessary to remove the other lymph nodes in the armpit.