Being the most common cancer in the UK, breast cancer affects about 48,000 women a year, it affects mostly women over the age of 50, however younger women and in some cases even men can be affected by the disease.
Multidisciplinary team or MDT are there for cancer patients to provide them with the best possible care and treatment for each individual patient. The MDT team consists of a specialist cancer surgeon, an oncologist, a radiologist, a pathologist, a radiographer, a reconstructive surgeon and a specialist nurse. As well as these specialised people there may also be a need for an occupational therapist, dietician and a physiotherapist, this all is based upon different people’s needs and circumstances.
Doctors have to consider the following things when treating a cancer patient:
- The stage and grade of your cancer
- General health
- If you have been through the menopause
There are a few different ways you can treat breast cancer, they are as followed:
- Hormonal therapies
Surgery isn’t always the first option that is given to patients however it is an option. Some surgeries involve removing the lymph nodes under the armpit or the doctors will do checks on them to make sure they are all as they should be. Before undergoing surgery for breast cancer doctors will find out whether or not they need to remove the whole breast or just some, this depends on the size of the cancer and how bad it is as well as its position. In some cases it is advised that women are given treatment with hormonal therapy or chemotherapy to try and shrink the cancer before undergoing surgery. There is no cure for breast cancer yet, but there are a couple of things that can reduce the risk of developing it, for example, having a mastectomy to remove the breast lessens your chances of developing breast cancer. Some people who have a history of breast cancer in the family or have a specific gene related to this, decide to have this operation to lessen their chances.
After surgery chemotherapy is often given so that it reduces the risk of the cancer coming back. This is an adjuvant treatment. It is usually given to the patient after surgery if the cancer is:
- has spread to the lymph nodes
- triple negative
- HER2 positive (chemotherapy is often given with Herceptin).
Chemotherapy can also be given to try and shrink a large bit of cancer before having surgery, and if successful it can then avoid the need for a mastectomy.
The chemotherapy drugs can be taken in three different ways, as an injection through the vein, a drip or as tablets, the tablets have an added bonus as they can be taken at home.
Intravenous chemotherapy is usually given through cannula in your arm. It is sometimes given through a soft plastic tube (central or PICC line). While under local or general anesthetic, a central line is put into a vein in your chest where as if the tube is put in the vein...