Wednesday, October 23, 2019

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is a cancer that forms in the tissues of the breast – usually in the ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple) or lobules (glands that make milk). It occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare. Ductal cancer is the commoner variety.

It may be in-situ (cancer still inside ducts / lobules and not spread to healthy breast tissue) or invasive (cancer has spread beyond ducts/lobules) to healthy breast tissue.

Staging Breast Cancer

λ Early stage (Stage I, Early Stage II) – the cancer is limited to the breast or axillary lymph nodes (nodes in armpit).

λ Locally Advanced stage (Late Stage II, Stage III) – the cancer involves the skin of breast or the chest wall.

λ Metastatic stage (Stage IV) – the cancer has spread to other organs.

Incidence – how common is breast cancer?

Breast Cancer Map

Breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women, with almost 1.7 million cases diagnosed per year and more than half a million deaths every year. Female breast cancer incidence rates vary widely between regions, with the highest incidence rates in Western Europe and the United States, and the lowest in Africa and Asia.

Below is a figure to depict numbers of new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in 2012 per 100,000 people of each region’s population.

What are the risk factors for breast cancer?

λ Female gender

λ Increasing age

λ Having fewer children

λ No breastfeeding

λ Genetic predisposition (family history or mutations in certain genes)

λ History of atypical hyperplasia (overgrowth of breast tissue)

λ Obesity

λ Exposure to estrogens

λ Alcohol

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms include one or more of the following –

λ A lump in the breast

λ Change in the size or shape of the breast

λ Dimpling of the skin or thickening  in the breast tissue or reddening of breast skin

λ Nipple inversion, discharge

λ Swelling or a lump in the armpit

λ In conjunction with these , any bony pains, persistent cough , yellowing of eyes should also not be overlooked

How to diagnose?

Once a patient reports with any of these symptoms, a thorough clinical examination is required which includes bilateral breast and axilla examination, examination of neck. A bilateral mammography (basically an X-ray of the breast) is then performed which characterizes the breast disease .Then we perform a small needle biopsy to prove the disease pathology and also to find out the hormonal and other receptor status (e.g. Her2) of the cancer – as these can be targeted specifically with drugs

In locally advanced cases we usually do a CT scan to check for disease spread elsewhere.

How to treat?

It is usually a curative disease if detected in early or locally advanced stages , and even in advanced metastatic stage , there are chances of long term control and survival benefits with the treatment options available today.

The treatment options are:

1. Surgery – it is the mainstay of treatment in early and locally advanced disease. Removal of only the tumor and conserving the healthy breast tissue is the norm.

2. Chemotherapy – is mainly used after surgery in early breast cancer to improve survival , in some cases of locally advanced cancers it is used before surgery also to decrease the size and extent of the cancer and improve outcomes

3. Hormonal therapy – Breast cancer is a hormone dependent tumor in almost 60 % cases and they respond to hormonal manipulation (in form of tablets and injections) very well. These tablets are quite inexpensive and give long term benefits in all stages.

4. Targeted therapy – It is very useful in cases where the cancer is positive for the specific receptor (e.g. Her2). They are comprised on monoclonal antibody injections or tablets and are used either alone or in conjunction with chemotherapy / hormonal therapy.

5. Radiation therapy – it is useful in preventing local disease reoccurrence after surgery and is also helpful if there is disease spread to the bone, brain.

What is life after treatment of breast cancer?

It is a largely curable disease with over 80% survivals in early and over 65% survivals in locally advanced breast cancer. Usually three monthly routine checkups with the doctor for the first 2 years and then 6 monthly for the next three years are recommended. Even in advanced metastatic disease, with the wide array of options available, survival and quality of life is constantly getting improved.

It is advised hence to immediately consult the doctor once any suspicion of above said symptoms arise and to get evaluated properly.  It is curable if detected early.

Dr. Subhadeep Bose

Medical Oncologist

Bahrain Specialist Hospital

Email: [email protected]


Facial Oils for Rejuvenation

Facial oils is a nourishing skincare product that can do wonders for your skin. Used correctly, they work as wonderful anti-ageing products for wrinkle...

Work is Worship

I had joined my father’s business in Dubai with 2 motives- to assist him in managing the shop and to learn the techniques of...

Stress Relief through Shishosana

Shishosana: As discussed, stress manifests in various ways in our physical body. In today’s times when we are engaged in innumerable activities from work...

Designers Gallery celebrates the official opening of its showroom

Designers Gallery, a part of the Almoayyed Contracting Group (ACG) opened its showroom in Tashan district on Wednesday the 16th of October, 2019. Members of...

German delegation visits Almoayyed International Group

Mr. Armin Rock and Mr. Alexander Jung a delegation from HSM Germany met Mr. Srinivasan, Director & Chief Executive Officer - International Operations of...

BPW Launches its “Art & Career” Incubator in Al Frieh Dar Al Fonoon Gallery

Under the patronage of Tamkeen's CEO Dr. Ebrahim Mohammed Janahi, Bahrain International Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW) has launched its second leading...

Batelco Awarded AVAYA ‘Partner of the Year 2019’ by Westcon at GITEX 2019

Batelco, the leading digital solutions provider in the Kingdom of Bahrain has been presented with the AVAYA ‘Partner of the Year 2019’ award by...

Huawei launches pre-orders for the Watch GT 2

Next generation smartwatch promises elevated user experience and unrivalled battery life Huawei’s next generation smartwatch, HUAWEI WATCH GT 2 46mm and 42mm series are...

UNEECO, Mr. Abdulrahman Juma: Bahrain’s Unique Business Icon

When it comes to business, he is one of the greatest visionaries that Bahrain can boast of. Building a successful corporate entity over the...

The Justice League assembles at City Centre Bahrain

Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, and The Flash — otherwise known as The Justice League — will be landing in City Centre Bahrain, the Kingdom’s...

“Thank You, and Well Done!” HH Shaikh Nasser Congratulates Bahrain National Football Team Players

HH Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Representative of His Majesty the King for Charity Works and Youth Affairs, and President of the Supreme...

VIVA extends support to Bahrain Deaf Society for professional training course on sign language skills

The corporate social responsibility arm of VIVA Bahrain, VIVA Jusoor recently extended support to Bahrain Deaf Society with sponsorship of professional sign language skills...

HH Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa Initiates Fund for Sports and Youth Projects

HH Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Representative of His Majesty the King for Charity Works and Youth Affairs and President of the Supreme...

Bahrain Airport Company rolls out new ICT software (Oracle Fusion) to improve efficiency

In line with ongoing efforts to progress with its digital transformation strategy, Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) has become the first company in the Kingdom...

‘A Gift of Gold’ offers at Malabar Gold & Diamonds

Malabar Gold & Diamonds, one among the largest jewellery retailers globally with a strong retail network of 250 outlets spread across the globe has...