It's the most common cancer in women worldwide
22 September 2019| Last updated on 23 September 2019
In honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Mediclinic Parkview Hospital sheds light on the most common cancer in women worldwide...
When it comes to breast cancer, most women, if not all, are familiar with the symptoms they should be looking out for.
Lumps, breast thickening, changes in size, shape or contour are all common symptoms that can indicate breast cancer. These easily identifiable symptoms can be spotted during a self-exam, or when having a mammogram.
As Mediclinic Parkview Hospital explains, the sooner breast cancer is diagnosed, the better your odds of getting successful treatment for it are.
That's why it’s important to have regular breast exams by your doctor, mammograms as recommended, and to check your breasts for any suspicious changes.
But did you know there are different types of breast cancer? We delve into the various kinds, as well as the different symptoms available...
The different types of breast cancer
Hormone Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer
About 80% of all breast cancers are “Estrogen-Receptor (ER) positive.” That means the cancer cells grow is stimulated by the hormone estrogen. About 65% of these are also “Progesteron Receptor (PR) positive.” Their grow is stimulated by the progesterone hormone.
Tumors that are ER/PR-positive are much more likely to respond to hormone therapy than tumors that are ER/PR-negative.
HER2-Positive Breast Cancer
In about 20% of breast cancers, the cells make too much of a protein known as HER2. These cancers tend to be aggressive and fast-growing.
Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
Some breast cancers -- between 10% and 20% -- are known as “triple-negative” because they don’t have estrogen and progesterone receptors and don’t overexpress the HER2 protein.
Most breast cancers associated with the gene BRCA1 are triple-negative. These cancers generally respond well to chemotherapy given after surgery. But the cancer tends to come back.
The different types of breast cancer treatment
Treatment will depend on type, size, stage and hormone receptor status of the breast cancer. Age, health conditions are personal preferences also play a role in this decision-making process.
Treatment can consist of chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, or targeted therapy; sometimes in combination. Here's more insight into each treatment type available...
To remove the whole breast, called a mastectomy, or to remove just the tumor and tissues around it, called a lumpectomy or breast-conserving surgery.
Systemic drug treatment, sometimes given before surgery to shrink the tumor and make cancer operable. It’s also sometimes given after surgery to try to prevent he cancer from coming back. They can cause side effects, like nausea, hair loss, early menopause, hot flashes, and fatigue; depending on the type of drug.
Often, radiation treatments are given after chemotherapy and surgery to prevent cancer from coming back.
Certain medications (tamoxifen, aromatase inhibitors and letrozole) may be given if the cancer cells have hormone receptors. Side effects can include hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
Used in HER2 tumors such as lapatinib (Tykerb), pertuzumab (Perjeta), and trastuzumab (Herceptin).
What are the side-effects?
The most common side effect of breast cancer and treatment is fatigue. Fatigue isn’t the same as being tired. Tiredness happens to everyone, and a good night's sleep usually re-energizes you.
Fatigue is a daily lack of energy or whole-body tiredness that doesn’t go away, even with good sleep. It can keep you from doing normal, daily things, and it affects your quality of life. Sometimes it's "acute," meaning it lasts a month or less. In other cases, it's "chronic" and lasts up to 6 months or longer. Usually, it comes on suddenly and may continue after finishing treatment.
:: Screening can help to detect breast cancer at an early stage and therefore increase the survival rate. When in doubt consult your doctor, we are here to screen, detect and help when and where needed.
Dr. Aagje Bais, MD, PhD
Consultant Obstetrics and Gynecology
Mediclinic Arabian Ranches, Dubai