October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is a serious health issue affecting many people worldwide. To help you understand it better and learn how changes in your lifestyle can lower the risk, we talked to Doctor Anywhere's Medical Director, Doc Z.
In this article, we'll explore common treatments for breast cancer in more detail and discuss the potential side effects. We'll also provide practical advice on lifestyle changes that can make a positive impact. Let's get the facts straight about breast cancer!
Common Treatments for Breast Cancer
When dealing with breast cancer, there are various treatment options tailored to each person's unique situation. Here's a closer look at these treatments:
1. Breast Cancer Surgery: Surgery is a crucial part of breast cancer treatment. It includes:
Lumpectomy: Removing the tumor and a small amount of healthy tissue.
Mastectomy: Removing the entire breast.
Sentinel node biopsy: Checking nearby lymph nodes.
Axillary lymph node dissection: Removing several lymph nodes.
Some women choose contralateral prophylactic mastectomy for peace of mind.
2. Radiation Therapy: This treatment uses high-energy beams like X-rays, to target and destroy cancer cells. It can be given from outside the body or by placing radioactive material inside. Radiation often follows a lumpectomy or mastectomy.
3. Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill fast-growing cells, including cancer cells. It can be used before surgery to shrink tumors or after to lower the risk of recurrence. Chemotherapy is also used for advanced breast cancer.
4. Hormone Therapy: Hormone therapy is primarily for estrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive) and progesterone receptor-positive (PR-positive) breast cancers. It can be used before or after surgery to suppress hormone-related cancer growth.
5. Targeted Therapy Drugs: These drugs target specific abnormalities in cancer cells, such as the HER2 protein. They can damage cancer cells while sparing healthy ones.
6. Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy harnesses the immune system to fight cancer, making it an option for some cases, like triple-negative breast cancer.
7. Supportive (Palliative) Care: Palliative care aims to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for cancer patients. It complements other treatments and can be used alongside curative therapies.
Potential Side Effects and How to Manage Them
The side effects of breast cancer treatments can vary:
1. Breast Cancer Surgery: Possible complications include pain, bleeding, infection, and lymphedema (swelling in the arm).
2. Radiation Therapy: Side effects may include fatigue, changes in skin, and rarely, damage to the heart or lungs.
3. Chemotherapy: Common side effects include hair loss, nausea, fatigue, and a higher risk of infections. Rare side effects may include infertility and nerve damage.
4. Hormone Therapy: Side effects range from hot flashes and night sweats to more serious risks like bone thinning and blood clots.
Lifestyle Changes to Prepare for Breast Cancer Treatment
Doc Z emphasizes the importance of lifestyle changes to reduce breast cancer risk:
1. Limit Alcohol: Drinking more alcohol increases breast cancer risk. Doc Z advises keeping it to one drink or less per day.
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight: If your weight is healthy, work to keep it that way. If needed, consult your doctor for safe weight loss strategies.
3. Be Physically Active: Regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce breast cancer risk. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week.
4. Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding might offer some protection against breast cancer. The longer you breastfeed, the more potential benefits you may gain.
5. Limit Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy: Combination hormone therapy may increase breast cancer risk. Discuss the pros and cons with your doctor.
Breast cancer can be very harmful, but remember, early prevention is the key to beating it. Regular check-ups and healthy lifestyle choices can make a significant difference!
If you need expert medical advice and support, you can rely on Doctor Anywhere during your breast cancer journey. You can access online video consultations with local doctors and specialists, such as ob-gyns and general surgeons, through the Doctor Anywhere app. Download the free app now and book your appointment.
To learn more about women’s health issues and the available support services, visit https://www.doctoranywhere.ph/women-health.