Breast tissue is present in both men and women. Most of the breast cancers are seen in women. Breast tissue consists of fat tissue, fibrous tissue, glands (sacs or lobules) and fine ducts. Most breast cancers originate in the ducts (ductal cancer). The minority of cancers commence in the lobules (lobular cancers).
Based on the behavior, breast cancer can again be divided into benign and malignant. Their treatment varies based on the type of cancer it is. Breast cancer can sometimes extend even beyond the breast, to the lymph nodes of the arm pit and other parts of the body such as liver and bones.
If you notice any of the warning signs or other changes in your breast, chest, or nipple, consult a doctor immediately. The warning signs include a recent or a growing lump, skin changes, nipple changes like a blood-stained discharge or an inversion of nipple or a rash on a nipple/ breast. A change in the size, shape of breast or a painful area is also a warning sign.
The diagnosis is based on information obtained from a battery of tests. These will include a mammogram, an ultrasound, Computed tomography scan (CT-Scan), the clearer magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI Scan) and finally a biopsy.
The first treatment for breast cancer is usually surgery on the breast, removing the tumor in its entirety and the armpit glands (otherwise known as the axillary lymph nodes).
Under circumstances, if you are affected with breast cancer, you can opt between complete removal of a breast (mastectomy) or else only a removal of the tumor whilst conserving the breasts (lumpectomy). Lumpectomy will have to be followed by radiation, to kill the remaining/ microscopic tumor cells.
After the surgery, several draining plastic tubes are inserted into the surgical site, to ensure removal of pooled lymph. This is done as the lymph nodes which perform this function will be removed along with the breast tissue.
Examination of the resected cancer and the removed lymph nodes will then be done by a pathologist, post the operation, and will point towards the need for any further treatment.
A specialist surgeon or an oncosurgeon will choose the type of surgery that will best treat your cancer. Breast Cancer surgery has been performed since 4-5 decades and has greatly helped increasing breast cancer survival rates over recent years.