Breast Cancer is among the most common cancers affecting women in India. It can either be benign(harmless) or a malignant type. Most commonly arising autonomously out of the cells of the breast, it can also be secondary to any other form of cancer or the vice versa both having their own unique manifestations.

Time for getting alert?

It's time to get alert if you see any of the following signs
1. Lump in the breast
2. Abnormal change in the shape of the breast
3. Dimpling of skin
4. Abnormal Discharge of fluid from the nipple
5. Red scaly patch of skin

OR you feel a deep seated pain, frequent shortness of breath or notice yellowing of skin in the area.
Rush to your physician if you feel any of the above symptoms accompanied with Nipple retraction and/or pain and irritation in the area.

Your physician may put you through a host of tests after physical examination if he/she suspects anything abnormal like Mammography, Ultrasound scanning, PET or MRI scan, Biopsy and/or multi-gene panel tests.

Your treatment may include biopsy for removal of the sentinel lymph node (receives primary drainage from tumor) which is also the first node to where the cancer may spread. A blue color dye may be injected and the first lymph node to receive the dye is removed.

Following biopsy, a pathologist's opinion is taken and the surgeon decides the further course of action. The surgeon may use Breast Conserving Mastectomy/Lumpectomy or lymph node dissection if the cancer has affected more than one lymph node.

Rarely, people with breast cancer have the option of choosing between total breast removal or breast conserving surgery followed by radiation therapy which is as potent as the first. You may want breast implants (a type of plastic surgery) or choose a flat chest if you going in for total breast removal. You can consult the specialized team of oncologist at Jaslok hospital and Research Centre headed by Dr. Suresh Advani.

Who are likely to be affected?

1. Those on long term hormone replacement therapy
2. Those taking contraceptive pills for a prolonged period of time
3. Those consuming alcohol
4. Those who don’t bear their first child before 35 years of age
5. Those with dense breasts
6. Those with a family history (genetic makeup)

While it is good to be modern and be career oriented, it is advisable to keep track of your health while taking time off for yourself and your family to avoid unnecessary trauma.

What after surgery?

Your physician will give you detailed instructions on your physical activity levels to be maintained along with advice on when you can drive, return back to work and in your leisure activities. You may want breast implants (a type of plastic surgery) or choose a flat chest if you going in for total breast removal.

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