Surgical Oncology is a subset of oncology that focuses on the surgical management of cancer. Though, it has not been ratified by a Board certification, this area of expertise is coming to its own by the success of combined treatment with chemotherapy, radiation, and targeted biological treatments. Through developing technology, such as the iKnife, surgery to target tumorous cells is becoming a necessary and popular field of medicine and is a very viable option for cancer procedures, both for treatment and prevention. This paper will explore the probability of a breast cancer patient undergoing more than one surgery given that surgery is the best treatment option. The purpose of this investigation is to determine the effectiveness and accuracy of breast cancer operations in completely eliminating tumorous cells based on size of tumor and location/accessibility. By no means is this a medically sponsored or medically recommended paper and the exploration should be read with this in mind.
As a cancer clinic volunteer, the daughter of an oncologist, the friend of a breast cancer survivor, and a biological enthusiast, I find the medical field of cancer and its impacts on health fascinating. The human body is so complex, yet, so fragile at the same time and I hope that through this exploration, I will witness how mathematics plays a role in science and more specifically physiology.
Breast cancer is most commonly diagnosed in Stage I and Stage II, where the size of the tumor is less than five centimeters in diameter. In these situations, surgery is often the second treatment option after chemotherapy and radiation therapy, both of which are used to shrink the tumor to a manageable size first. If the patient chooses to, the second treatment plan is surgery. For small tumors, less than 5 cm, breast-conserving surgery (BCS) is preferred by about 60.2% of women with breast cancer because the procedure attempts to remove as many of the cancerous cells as possible while still protecting healthy tissue. A BCS procedure can be either a lumpectomy, which removes a tumor and a small amount of normal surrounding tissue, or a partial mastectomy, which removes the part of the breast that has cancer and again some normal tissue. Unfortunately, there is a higher risk of tumor resurgence with BCS because if even a few tumorous cells remain, they can rapidly multiply and cause tumor regrowth in surrounding tissue or in nearby lymph nodes. When a patient is diagnosed in Stage III or Stage IV, the cancer has spread to the entire breast. For a cancer to be stage III, the tumor must be large (greater than 5 cm or about 2 inches across) or growing into nearby tissues (the skin over the breast or the muscle underneath), or the cancer has spread to many nearby lymph nodes. In this situation, many patients opt for a total mastectomy or a modified radical mastectomy, which are surgeries to remove the whole breast that has cancer and lymph nodes alongside it.