Treatment Plan

Best Hospitals for Breast Cancer treatment in India Treatment Plan

While there are no exact reasons as to what causes breast cancer, we do know that there are certain risk factors which contribute towards it. Awareness of risk factors can help one to assess the chances of the disease by themselves. People who belong to the high-risk category should periodically examine their breasts for any abnormalities. 
Some of the most common risk factors are:

·      Progression of age

·      Inherited genes

·      Family history of breast cancer

·      Personal history of breast cancer

·      Having dense breast tissue

·      Consumption of alcohol and smoke

·      Obesity

·      Lack of physical activity

·      Having children at an advanced age or not having any at all

·      Not breastfeeding

·      Prolonged use of oral contraceptives 

·      Hormone therapy after menopause

·      Certain benign breast conditions

·      Early onset of menstruation

·      Late menopause (after the age of 55)

·      Exposure to radiation

·      Exposure to certain drugs like diethylstilbestrol

·      Exposure to light at night (as in the case of those who work in the nights)

The first sign of breast cancer most women notice is a lump on their breast. However, there are other signs and symptoms of breast cancer as well, and most of them can be easily detected. They are:

·       a lump in the breast

·       pain in the armpits

·       a sunken nipple

·       a totally inverted nipple

·       unnatural discharges from the nipple

·       changing shape or size of the breast

·       peeling, flaking or scaling of the skin of the breast or nipples

Occurrence of any or some of the above-mentioned symptoms calls for a detailed examination by a doctor. This can help diagnose the disease faster and hence offers a better chance for cure. 

Breast cancer is divided into five stages – 0 to 4, based on how advanced the cancer is. Each stage needs to be treated accordingly. 

STAGE 0: 

At this stage the cancer is non-invasive and is limited to the inside of the milk duct. It hasn’t spread to different parts of the body and immediate treatment can ensure it does not become an invasive type.

The treatment options available at this stage are:

Surgery: A lumpectomy is performed which eliminates cancerous cells from the body. If the cancerous cells are found throughout the breast, then a mastectomy is performed (complete removal of breast). A breast reconstruction surgery can take place at the same time.

Radiation: Radiation therapy can kill cancer cells which were missed during surgery. 

Hormone Therapy: Hormone therapy uses certain drugs to block oestrogen and progesterone receptors in the cancer cells thus limiting its growth.

 

STAGE 1-3:

Stage1:This stage can be divided into two subcategories – 1a and 1b. In stage 1a, the tumour is less than 2 cm in size and hasn’t spread to the lymph nodes. In stage 1b, the tumour may or may not be present, but the cancerous cells have clustered together and may also be present in the lymph nodes. 

Stage 2:The two subcategories for stage 2 are stage 2a and stage 2b. In stage 2a, no tumour or tumour less than 2 cm can be found. Involvement of 2 or 3 lymph nodes of armpits or breast bone area is found, or the tumour could be 5 cm in size, with no lymph node involvement.
In stage 2b, the tumour measures around 2-5 cm in size and may or may not be growing in the lymph node, along with the cancerous cells. The tumour could also be larger than 5 cm in size but not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.

 

Stage 3:Stage 3 has three sub-categories, 3a, 3b and 3c. 

Stage 3a - Tumour is more than 5 cm and spread to the lymph nodes, or no tumour detected but involvement of four to nine lymph nodes, or tumour is more than 5 cm in size.

Stage 3b - The tumour has spread to the chest wall and forms an ulcer in the skin of the breast and involves the lymph nodes

Stage 3c: Tumour may be large and invading the chest wall and involves almost 10 lymph nodes.

The treatment options available Stage 1-3 are:

For stage 1 and stage 2, surgery is the first line of treatment. After surgery, a collective treatment schedule of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy is followed. However, for stage 3, Chemotherapy or targeted therapy is the first line of treatment. Once the tumour size is brought down, surgery is attempted which is followed by radiation therapy.

 

STAGE 4:

In this stage the cancer is in a very advanced condition. The cancer has spread to the other parts of body.  Hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy may be done. Palliative treatment to decrease the intensity of symptoms is also initiated.

In India, best cancer treatment costs a fraction of what it does in many countries around the world. On an average, breast cancer treatment in India costs between 7,700 – 14,600 USD, depending on the extent of treatment required.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the costs based on the kind of treatment selected:

·       Cost of evaluation – Approx. 1,500 USD

·       Chemotherapy – Approx. 1,300 to 1,500 per cycle

·       Mastectomy – Approx. 4000 to 6000 USD

·       Biological Therapy – Approx. 1,500 per cycle

Recovery time will depend on the kind of surgery patient has undergone. Usually, unless there are some complications involved, recovery time can be up to a year for a patient diagnosed with early stage breast cancer.
Types of surgery and recovery time:

Lumpectomy:During a lumpectomy, a small portion of the breast tissue, which is cancerous, is removed.  A lumpectomy is also known as a partial mastectomy. Recovery from a lumpectomy surgery takes about 7-14 days, during which time the patient should get plenty of rest and avoid performing any heavy lifting or driving.

Mastectomy:A mastectomy involves the complete removal of the breast and this is an in-patient procedure, Hence the patient will need to stay back in the hospital one or two days after the surgery and upon discharge, may take up to four weeks to heal. A mastectomy is usually often performed with immediate breast reconstruction surgery as well. During this time, the patient requires a lot of rest and emotional support.

Chemotherapy:Chemotherapy for breast cancer is performed in different schedules and takes anywhere between 4-6 months to complete. Depending on how the chemotherapy is affecting the patient, they may need to take time off between each schedule to recover. Chemotherapy is a treatment that affects the entire body and can cause a lot of side effects such as bone pain. Hence the patient needs complete rest during these sessions.

While there are no exact reasons as to what causes breast cancer, we do know that there are certain risk factors which contribute towards it. Awareness of risk factors can help one to assess the chances of the disease by themselves. People who belong to the high-risk category should periodically examine their breasts for any abnormalities. 
Some of the most common risk factors are:

·      Progression of age

·      Inherited genes

·      Family history of breast cancer

·      Personal history of breast cancer

·      Having dense breast tissue

·      Consumption of alcohol and smoke

·      Obesity

·      Lack of physical activity

·      Having children at an advanced age or not having any at all

·      Not breastfeeding

·      Prolonged use of oral contraceptives 

·      Hormone therapy after menopause

·      Certain benign breast conditions

·      Early onset of menstruation

·      Late menopause (after the age of 55)

·      Exposure to radiation

·      Exposure to certain drugs like diethylstilbestrol

·      Exposure to light at night (as in the case of those who work in the nights)

The first sign of breast cancer most women notice is a lump on their breast. However, there are other signs and symptoms of breast cancer as well, and most of them can be easily detected. They are:

·       a lump in the breast

·       pain in the armpits

·       a sunken nipple

·       a totally inverted nipple

·       unnatural discharges from the nipple

·       changing shape or size of the breast

·       peeling, flaking or scaling of the skin of the breast or nipples

Occurrence of any or some of the above-mentioned symptoms calls for a detailed examination by a doctor. This can help diagnose the disease faster and hence offers a better chance for cure. 

Breast cancer is divided into five stages – 0 to 4, based on how advanced the cancer is. Each stage needs to be treated accordingly. 

STAGE 0: 

At this stage the cancer is non-invasive and is limited to the inside of the milk duct. It hasn’t spread to different parts of the body and immediate treatment can ensure it does not become an invasive type.

The treatment options available at this stage are:

Surgery: A lumpectomy is performed which eliminates cancerous cells from the body. If the cancerous cells are found throughout the breast, then a mastectomy is performed (complete removal of breast). A breast reconstruction surgery can take place at the same time.

Radiation: Radiation therapy can kill cancer cells which were missed during surgery. 

Hormone Therapy: Hormone therapy uses certain drugs to block oestrogen and progesterone receptors in the cancer cells thus limiting its growth.

 

STAGE 1-3:

Stage1:This stage can be divided into two subcategories – 1a and 1b. In stage 1a, the tumour is less than 2 cm in size and hasn’t spread to the lymph nodes. In stage 1b, the tumour may or may not be present, but the cancerous cells have clustered together and may also be present in the lymph nodes. 

Stage 2:The two subcategories for stage 2 are stage 2a and stage 2b. In stage 2a, no tumour or tumour less than 2 cm can be found. Involvement of 2 or 3 lymph nodes of armpits or breast bone area is found, or the tumour could be 5 cm in size, with no lymph node involvement.
In stage 2b, the tumour measures around 2-5 cm in size and may or may not be growing in the lymph node, along with the cancerous cells. The tumour could also be larger than 5 cm in size but not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.

 

Stage 3:Stage 3 has three sub-categories, 3a, 3b and 3c. 

Stage 3a - Tumour is more than 5 cm and spread to the lymph nodes, or no tumour detected but involvement of four to nine lymph nodes, or tumour is more than 5 cm in size.

Stage 3b - The tumour has spread to the chest wall and forms an ulcer in the skin of the breast and involves the lymph nodes

Stage 3c: Tumour may be large and invading the chest wall and involves almost 10 lymph nodes.

The treatment options available Stage 1-3 are:

For stage 1 and stage 2, surgery is the first line of treatment. After surgery, a collective treatment schedule of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy is followed. However, for stage 3, Chemotherapy or targeted therapy is the first line of treatment. Once the tumour size is brought down, surgery is attempted which is followed by radiation therapy.

 

STAGE 4:

In this stage the cancer is in a very advanced condition. The cancer has spread to the other parts of body.  Hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy may be done. Palliative treatment to decrease the intensity of symptoms is also initiated.

In India, best cancer treatment costs a fraction of what it does in many countries around the world. On an average, breast cancer treatment in India costs between 7,700 – 14,600 USD, depending on the extent of treatment required.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the costs based on the kind of treatment selected:

·       Cost of evaluation – Approx. 1,500 USD

·       Chemotherapy – Approx. 1,300 to 1,500 per cycle

·       Mastectomy – Approx. 4000 to 6000 USD

·       Biological Therapy – Approx. 1,500 per cycle

Recovery time will depend on the kind of surgery patient has undergone. Usually, unless there are some complications involved, recovery time can be up to a year for a patient diagnosed with early stage breast cancer.
Types of surgery and recovery time:

Lumpectomy:During a lumpectomy, a small portion of the breast tissue, which is cancerous, is removed.  A lumpectomy is also known as a partial mastectomy. Recovery from a lumpectomy surgery takes about 7-14 days, during which time the patient should get plenty of rest and avoid performing any heavy lifting or driving.

Mastectomy:A mastectomy involves the complete removal of the breast and this is an in-patient procedure, Hence the patient will need to stay back in the hospital one or two days after the surgery and upon discharge, may take up to four weeks to heal. A mastectomy is usually often performed with immediate breast reconstruction surgery as well. During this time, the patient requires a lot of rest and emotional support.

Chemotherapy:Chemotherapy for breast cancer is performed in different schedules and takes anywhere between 4-6 months to complete. Depending on how the chemotherapy is affecting the patient, they may need to take time off between each schedule to recover. Chemotherapy is a treatment that affects the entire body and can cause a lot of side effects such as bone pain. Hence the patient needs complete rest during these sessions.