Breast cancer – An Overview
Breast cancer is a frequently occurring form of cancer that affects the breast tissue. It is the most commonly seen type of cancer in females, but males can get it as well. If signs, such as changes in breast colour, breast pain, or any abnormal discharge oozing from the breast, are observed, consult a doctor right away because early detection can improve the chances of successful treatments.
Breast cancer surgery is frequently used as one of the primary treatments for breast cancer. It is performed as a part of the treatment for breast cancer and can be combined with other therapies, including chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and radiation therapy, or can be used to reduce the risk of developing the disease in individuals who are at high risk.
What is breast cancer surgery or breast tumour surgery?
Breast cancer surgery is a surgical procedure that removes the cancerous breast tissue from the breast. The amount of breast tissue removed with the tumour varies with the method used for breast cancer surgery. The appropriate method is determined by the location of the tumour, its extent of spread, and patient’s preferences. In addition, the surgeon will remove some lymph nodes beneath the arm to be examined for cancer cells. This will assist the doctor in planning post-operative care.
Different types of surgical procedures for breast cancer surgery include:
Mastectomy (total or simple)
In this procedure, the surgeon excises or removes the whole breast, including the nipple. They do not remove the lymph nodes, which are a part of the immune system.
This procedure is most likely to be performed if the cancer is not in the lymph nodes or if someone is having a mastectomy to reduce their chance of developing breast cancer in the future.
Modified radical mastectomy
The surgeon will remove all of the affected breast tissue, including the armpit lymph nodes and nipple, while keeping the chest muscles intact. If diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, this may be a good alternative.
The breast tissue, lymph nodes in the armpit, nipple, and muscles of the chest wall underneath the breast are all removed by the surgeon.
This procedure is very seldom used nowadays. In most cases, a modified radical mastectomy is just as effective and less disfiguring. In cases where the cancer has spread to the chest muscles, a radical mastectomy is usually recommended.
Lumpectomy (partial mastectomy)
The surgeon removes the tumour as well as some of the surrounding breast tissue. Following that, the patient will almost certainly require radiation treatments.
If the patient cannot or will not have radiation, this might not be a great choice for them.
Lymph node surgery
Evaluating the lymph nodes to determine whether cancer has spread is a significant factor in breast cancer surgery. The surgeon usually does this during the initial surgery, but it can also be done later. This surgery is of two types:
- Axillary lymph node dissection: The surgeon removes between 10 and 20 lymph nodes from beneath the arm. These nodes are screened for cancer.
- Biopsy of a sentinel lymph node: The surgeon detects and eliminates the lymph node from which the breast cancer is most likely to have spread.
Reconstruction of the breast
Many women who have a mastectomy choose to have breast reconstruction either immediately after or later. Breast implants or a person’s own tissue, generally from the lower abdomen, can be used for this reconstruction.
What to expect before breast tumour surgery?
- First and foremost, the surgeon will ask the patient about their medical history and any current medications, herbs, or vitamin supplements the patient might be taking.
- The surgeon may also ask if there were any reactions associated with prior surgical or medical procedures or if the patient has any concurrent medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiac disorders, or any other conditions that might impact the surgery.
- The surgeon may recommend that the patient do some diagnostic tests, including chest X-rays, EKGs, urine tests, and blood tests, to be sure that the patient is ready for the surgical procedure. A CT scan may also be requested to identify the dimensions and location of the tumour.
what happens in breast cancer surgery?
What happens during this surgery will vary depending on the procedure, but one can expect:
Based on the discussions with the healthcare team, the breast cancer procedure will be personalised to meet individual needs. It may entail removing a part of the breast, the entire breast, or perhaps both of them. It could include the removal of many or all of the axillary lymph nodes or a biopsy of a sentinel lymph node if cancer has been found there.
If the individual has chosen breast reconstruction, the surgeon may start and finish the reconstruction while performing the same procedure. This may necessitate additional wounds on the body, such as if the surgeon needs to remove tissue from another part of the body to reconstruct the breast. Alternatively, the patient could also postpone breast reconstruction until after cancer treatment is finished.
What to expect after the breast cancer surgery?
Following the surgical procedure,
- The patient will be transported to a recovery room where the pulse, blood pressure, and breathing will be monitored.
- The patient will have a dressing (bandage) on the surgical site.
- After the vitals are stabilised, the patient will be shifted to the hospital room or will be discharged, depending on the procedure performed.
- The patient may experience breast pain, numbness, pain, and a pinching feeling in the underarm area.
- The patient will be given home-care instructions, including how to care for the incision and drains, how to identify indicators of infection, and follow activity restrictions.
- The patient should consult the doctor about when they should resume putting on a bra or a breast prosthesis.
- The patient will be provided prescriptions for pain relievers and possibly an antibiotic.
- Breast care after surgery: for the first week after surgery, keep the incision dry and clean. The patient may have to consider taking sponge baths instead of showers. Bathing in a bathtub is safe as long as the incision area is kept dry.
What are the possible after-breast cancer surgery side effects?
- Shoulder stiffness
- Tingling and numbness in the armpit and upper chest area
- Seroma (fluid collection around the scar tissue)
- Lymphoedema (lymph node swelling)
- Axillary web syndrome (hardening of lymph node vessels in the armpit area)
A note from LivLong
Breast tumour surgery is a major operation in which breast tissue or lymph nodes in the armpit area are removed. While the surgery is intended to eliminate cancerous tissue and minimise the likelihood of recurrence, proper post-surgery breast care is essential in order to encourage healing and avoid complications.
Breast tumour surgery may have a major impact on a patient’s physical and emotional well-being; however, with proper care, women can recover and resume their routine functions. Regular post-surgery breast care is critical for long-term well-being.
Is breast cancer surgery considered major surgery?
Yes, a breast tumour is usually considered a major surgery because it involves removing the breasts surgically to either stop the growth of cancer or decrease the likelihood of developing it in a woman who is at high risk.
Are breast cysts related to breast cancer?
Breast cysts do not increase the risk of developing breast cancer; however, having breast cysts may make it more difficult to detect new breast lumps or even other changes that require evaluation by the doctor.
What type of surgery is done for breast cancer?
Breast tumour surgery involves a variety of procedures, including:
• Surgical removal of the complete breast (mastectomy)
• A part of the breast tissue is removed during surgery (lumpectomy).
• Surgical removal of nearby lymph nodes
• Breast reconstruction surgery following a mastectomy
How long does a breast cancer operation take?
This will be determined by the extent of the cancerous tissue. A simple lumpectomy, regardless of a sentinel node biopsy, could generally be completed in less than an hour. Normally, patients may be discharged on the same day. A mastectomy with dissection of the axillary lymph nodes or flap reconstruction, on the other hand, can take as long as 3 hours. Patients may be required to be hospitalised for one or more nights following the procedure.
What is the cost of breast cancer surgery?
The breast cancer surgery cost in India varies greatly depending on a number of factors. These factors include:
• The experience and expertise of the breast cancer specialist
• The breast cancer hospital and the city chosen for surgery
• The complexity of the breast tumour surgery
• Type of breast implant chosen in reconstructive breast surgery
• Post-operative expenses
• Diagnostic tests and consultation charges
While considering breast cancer surgery in India, it is critical to seek advice from the breast specialist to go over all of the options and determine which procedure suits you best. Before making a decision, you should also compare prices between hospitals or clinics.