Although breast cancer affects more women, it can also be a disease that affects men. It is essentially a condition where the breast tissue becomes invaded with cancerous growths, and generally starts either in the tubules of the breast or the milk glands. In many cases it can be managed if it is caught through early screening, but treatment and cure can include a different prognosis.
Early Screening for Patients
Many women will go through screening for breast cancer when they see their physicians for a regular checkup. While this approach is highly applicable for catching the growth of abnormal cells at an early stage, self checks are also advocated as a way of detecting symptoms and seeking treatment at the earliest signs of the disease.
Self-checks most commonly involve palping the breast tissue to feel for tumors or abnormalities, and can be carried out in the privacy of home. A number of state health departments, such as MediCal will also partner with health service providers and clinics to offer education and awareness about breast cancer. This gives many women a way to learn about self screening and to know what signs to look for.
In the process of a self check, the following symptoms can indicate that there is concern over the possible formation of cancerous tissue.
- Lumps – while some lumping may occur during the menstrual cycle, the persistence of these formations in the breast can be indicative of cancer. These small tumors are generally painless, although pressure to the area can generate a feeling of numbness or pricking.
- Swelling – this is usually more apparent in the armpit, and is an indication that the lymph node in that area is inflamed. The continual swelling of this lymph gland is often associated with the immune response that arises from the presence of cancerous cells in the breast.
- Pain – although many cases of breast cancer do not show pain during early stages, tenderness in the breast area can still be a symptom. As with the lumping, it is the persistence of breast pain that can be troublesome.
- Changes in shape – differences in the shape of the breast or the skin can also be early symptoms of breast cancer. This can include indentations, rugosity, rashes, and even a flattening of the breast. These may or may not be combined with pain in the area.
- Discharge – any discharge from the nipple can be a sign for concern. This can vary from clear to bloody expressions, but should be examined by a physician once it is noted.
Diagnostic Tests For Breast Cancer
While screening can detect the possibility of the disease, it is not an actual diagnosis for breast cancer. The most common diagnostic test is a mammogram, which is able to detect possible tumors that cannot yet be felt. If a tumor shows up on a mammogram, then the next step is for the patient to have a biopsy.
During a biopsy, a part of the tumor is extracted and these cells are then examined by a specialist in oncology. The cells are scrutinized in order to determine whether they are cancerous in nature, and whether the tumor is malignant or benign. Benign tumors are fairly common and can be removed by way or surgery. Malignant tumors indicate that there is a proliferation of abnormal growth which can spread throughout the breast and the body. Although malignant tumors can also be surgically removed, the abnormal growth will often continue.
What Other Treatments Are There For Breast Cancer?
Along with several surgical variations, physicians will often order adjunct treatment for breast cancer patients both before and after the procedure.
- Radiation therapy – this targets the abnormal growth with high intensity beams of energy, including X-rays. The energy has been shown to kill off the abnormal cells and halt their spread, although some collateral tissue damage may also occur.
- Chemotherapy – this type of treatment uses an infusion of specialized drugs to destroy the cancer cells and slow further progression. While many oncology departments will perform this procedure in the clinic, patients can also use the services of home health aids and specialty pharmacies to undergo the treatment at home.
- Hormone therapy – this type of intervention uses specialized drugs that block the production of hormones in order to slow the spread of tumors. This is commonly used after a surgical procedure and patients are to continue this treatment on their own with prescriptions that are filled through a specialty pharmacy.
- Targeted drugs – there are several FDA approved drugs that will have a specific affect upon the cancer cells. These can be obtained through a specialty pharmacy, and will tend to block the proteins that can induce cancerous spread and metastatic progression.
Specialty pharmacy Medico RX helps cancer patients heal from home. Call us now at XXX to discuss some in-home treatment options for breast cancer as well as other cancers.
Does Insurance Cover Treatments?
Many insurance providers do have provisions for both diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Some patients may find that they have to take disability as the disease progresses, in which case Medicare becomes the insurance provider. This allows for a number of points of coverage, including:
- Physician appointments
- Treatment expenses
- Medications and drug therapy
- Mental health support
- Some prosthetics
- Home health care and other nursing services
These provisions allow for patients with breast cancer to receive the help they need during treatment and in recuperation. Although some alternative treatments may not be covered by Medicare, approved interventions are generally considered as a necessity.
Managing Breast Cancer
Breast cancer does not have to be a fatal disease, and in many cases, patients who were able to catch symptoms early and receive proper treatment have experienced full remission. Other patients may also have a good prognosis, with interventions that can improve quality of life even if the disease is still present. Support groups for patients, friends, and family are also highly effective when combined with surgery and treatment options. Education and awareness play a large part in the life outlook for patients with breast cancer.