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Not all breast diseases are cancer

Breast tumors, both benign and malignant, are the focus of interest in the health sector and society in all its categories, which is evident through the awareness campaigns that have contributed to breaking the shyness barrier among women. Early detection was a lifeline for many early stage cancer cases. The woman realized that shyness will not benefit her, but might be the cause of losing her life. The earlier the detection, the faster she is freed from the disease. However, breast problems are not always cancer, but there are many benign tumors that are not dangerous, but cause a state of panic in a woman until the doctor diagnoses it. 

Benign Breast Tumors

Most breast lumps are benign, which means they’re not cancer. Benign breast lumps usually have smooth edges and can be moved slightly when you push against them. They are often found in both breasts. There are several common causes, including normal changes in breast tissue, breast infections, or injury. Fibroadenomas are the most common benign lumps. If you push on them, they are solid, round, rubbery lumps that move freely. 

They’re usually painless but may be painful before a period. The majority of women with benign breast disease don’t develop breast cancer. If you have a disease type that increases cancer risk, your healthcare provider may recommend more frequent cancer screenings. Certain breast diseases can make you more prone to developing lumps. You should notify your healthcare provider anytime you notice changes in how your breasts look or feel.

Perhaps the hormonal fluctuations and disorders in a woman’s life stages are one of the risk factors of benign breast disease, in addition to taking birth control pills, weight gain, aging and menopause.

Unlike breast cancer, a fibroadenoma doesn’t cause nipple discharge, swelling, redness, or skin irritation around the breast. Doctors don’t know what causes them. They may be related to changing levels of hormones, since they often appear during puberty or pregnancy and go away after menopause.

These lumps develop as a result of changes in the estrogen levels in the body. The breasts are made of “lobules” that are the milk-producing glands, as well as milk ducts that carry milk to the nipple. A benign breast tumor begins to form in one of the milk lobules, so the tissues and milk ducts enlarge, eventually forming a soft, cohesive mass, and this is what they call an adenoma.

Breast self-exam, or regularly examining your breasts on your own, can be an important way to find a breast cancer early, when it’s more likely to be treated successfully. While no single test can detect all breast cancers early, it is believed that performing breast self-exam in combination with other screening methods can increase the odds of early detection.

The second stage of the examination takes place in the doctor’s office, and here the woman should not neglect the regular visit to the specialist doctor, especially if there is a family history of benign lumps or even breast tumors. She must visit her doctor annually after the age of forty. Your risk for benign breast disease increases if you have a family history of breast cancer or benign breast disease, use hormone replacement therapy or have a hormonal imbalance.

You may notice breast changes or a lump while doing a breast-self exam, showering or getting dressed. Sometimes a mammogram detects these changes. Besides a breast lump, other signs of benign breast disease include breast pain, nipple discharge, change in breast size, shape or contour, inverted, creased or scaly nipple and dimpled, puckered or scaly breasts.

In some cases, the doctor may need to take a sample of breast lumps for reassurance (biopsy). Dealing with this type of benign tumor starts by monitoring it to see the extent of its development and growth, especially if it is small and does not seem to grow with time, which means that keeping it does not cause any problem.

Breast lump removal is surgery to remove a lump that may be breast cancer. Tissue around the lump is also removed. This surgery is called an excisional breast biopsy, or lumpectomy. When a noncancerous tumor such as a fibroadenoma of the breast is removed, this is also called an excisional breast biopsy, or a lumpectomy. It is done under local or general anesthesia.

Image-guided vacuum-assisted excision biopsy is a non-surgical procedure that can be used to remove benign (non-cancerous) lumps in the breast. A vacuum-assisted excision (VAE) of a breast lesion involves a small cut being made in your breast and the lesion (area of swelling or a lump) being removed using a needle attached to a vacuum/suction device. This lesion will then be analyzed in the laboratory to see what it is.

Cryoablation, also referred to as cryotherapy, is a minimally invasive procedure that uses extremely cold temperatures to destroy diseased tissue. In certain clinical situations, it can be preferred over other techniques and has a faster recovery time.

For internal tumors, cryotherapy is carried out by using a cryoprobe, a thin wand-like device with a handle or trigger or a series of small needles, attached via tubing to a source of nitrogen or argon, which super-cools the probe tip. 

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer worldwide. According to the United Nations Health Agency, there were 2.3 million new breast cancer cases in 2020, representing almost 12 percent of all cancer cases. It is also the leading cause of death from cancer among women worldwide.

Awareness campaigns have always focused on early detection because it is the way to detect the disease early and protect the patient from spreading the cancer beyond the breast area. This step greatly contributed to avoiding the complete excision process while only removing the cancerous tumor, with the patient undergoing a number of chemotherapy and radiology sessions before and after the operation, according to the appropriate treatment protocol for her disease.

Early detection is important with the aim of detecting malignant cells in its early stages, which increases the effectiveness of treatment. After the age of forty, every woman must go to centers or hospitals that perform a mammogram to detect the presence of lumps that begin to form inside the breast without feeling them. Awareness campaigns always focus on the need to do a mammogram to be on the safe side because when symptoms appear it means that the disease has already started. 

The types of breast cancer differ according to the ability of the disease to spread and respond to each type of treatment. In researching the type of cancer, the oncologist focuses on the characteristics of the breast cancer through histological examination and biopsy, to see if it is slow, moderate, or fast-growing. They also look into the type and amount of proteins present in this malignancy on or inside the cell wall, in addition to examining the estrogen, progesterone and HER 2 protein receptors. In terms of treatments, the doctor determines the appropriate treatment for each patient, taking into account several factors, namely, the size of the malignant tumor and where it has spread. In some cases, a tumor excision is required only while preserving the breast, provided that the operation is followed by radiotherapy, while for other cases where the disease has spread, the breast must be completely removed then chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions should be done in addition to hormone therapy afterwards. 

In some cases, the doctor decides to combine surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and hormonal therapy, in order to prevent complications and control the disease. Sometimes surgery is postponed until they see a response to chemotherapy, and other times surgery is ruled out in the elderly and is replaced with radiation and hormonal therapy only.

Breast cancer surgeries have also witnessed a remarkable development, as it is now possible to remove the first node only to be examined, and if it was healthy, the remaining nodes are not removed and this method is called Central Lymph Node Biopsy. Medical studies and research also concluded that the preventive hormonal therapy tamoxifen should be taken for ten years instead of five given its importance in reducing the risk of disease recurrence. 

Breast reconstruction surgery takes place during or soon after mastectomy, and in some cases, lumpectomy. It can also be done many months or even years after mastectomy or lumpectomy. During reconstruction, a plastic surgeon creates a breast shape using an artificial implant (implant reconstruction), a flap of tissue from another place on your body (autologous reconstruction), or both. Surgeons today are doing their best to avoid performing radical mastectomy. However, in the end, the size of the tumor, the extent of its spread, its type, and the extent of skin injury are all factors that the doctor considers in order to determine the type of the surgery.

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