Breast Cancer Treatment In India
Breast Cancer: What You Need to Know
- Approximately one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
- Annual mammograms are recommended for women 40 and older and for younger women with specific breast cancer risk factors.
- Warning signs and symptoms for breast cancer can vary greatly. If you experience any changes in the breast, nipple or underarm, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
- The most common genes associated with breast cancer risk are BRCA1 and BRCA2.
- There is a 98% survival rate for breast cancer that is detected at an early stage.
What are Causes of Breast Cancer?
The exact cause of Breast Cancer is still unknown and there are no fixed causes for breast cancer. Myths in identifying the causes of breast cancer are more prevalent than the real cause. However, some of the causes that have been collectively associated with breast cancer are:
- Age: The chance of breast cancer depends on age, as the person gets older the chances of it are more.
- Inheritance: Family history of close relative like mother, sister and daughter who has been diagnosed with breast cancer increases the risk factor.
- Early menses or menopause: Early start onset of menses and early menopause are also associated with breast cancer.
- Radioactivity: Exposure to radioactive rays is carcinogenic and increases the chances of breast cancer.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy: Using hormone replacement therapy might also cause it.
- Exposure to harmful chemicals: Working in a chemical factory that uses harmful chemicals like Organochlorines.
- Nullyparity or Late childbearing: Nullyparity or Late childbearing also appear to be a minor risk factor in the development of breast cancer.
How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed?
To determine the cause of any signs or symptoms you may have, your doctor will perform a careful physical exam that includes a personal and family medical history, as well as questions about your current overall health status. An examination that includes the following will also be done:
- Palpation. Carefully feeling the lump and the tissue around it its size, its texture, and whether it moves easily. Benign lumps often feel different from cancerous ones.
- Nipple discharge examination. Fluid may be collected from spontaneous nipple discharge and then sent to the lab to look for cancer cells. Most nipple secretions are not cancer, as an injury, infection, or benign tumor may cause discharge. For women who are at high risk for breast cancer, a procedure called ductal lavage may be used. Ductal lavage is a procedure that collects cells from inside the milk ductal system the location where most breast cancers begin.
In addition to a physical examination by your doctor, imaging tests will be performed. Imaging tests may include one or more of the following:
- Diagnostic mammography
- Digital mammography (also called full-field digital mammography, or FFDM)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Treatments for Breast Cancer in India
Surgery is a common treatment for breast cancer. It’s done to remove as much of the cancer as possible. Women have many surgical options. The type of surgery done depends on:
- The size and location of the breast lump or tumor
- The type the breast cancer
- If the cancer has spread within the breast or has spread outside of the breast to the lymph nodes, or to other parts of the body
- The size of the breast
- The woman’s preference
There are several types of breast surgery. The main types include:
Lymphedema Following a Mastectomy
2. Radiation Therapy:
Radiation therapy is a breast cancer treatment option that often uses X-rays to kill cancer cells. There are several ways to give radiation therapy to the breast cancer cells. Radiation therapy is also called radiotherapy. Its goal is to kill or shrink cancer cells.
When might radiation therapy be used for breast cancer?
Radiation is most often used along with other breast cancer treatments, like surgery or chemotherapy. Your doctor may advise radiation if either of the following apply to you:
- You have an early stage or locally advanced breast cancer. You would get radiation after surgery. This is called adjuvant treatment. Radiation is often used after surgery to remove the cancer and nearby tissue (breast-conserving surgery). It is sometimes used after surgery to remove the entire breast (mastectomy). The goal is to kill cancer cells that can’t be seen, but may have been left behind after surgery. This lowers the chance the cancer will come back. Radiation can be directed at the breast or at the breast and lymph nodes. After mastectomy it can be directed at the chest wall and scars. And it may also include the lymph nodes in the chest, armpit, and collarbone (clavicle).
- You have metastatic breast cancer. This means the cancer has spread to other parts of your body, such as the bones or brain. The goal of radiation in this case is mainly to ease cancer symptoms. This is sometimes called palliative treatment.
Chemotherapy uses anticancer medicines to kill cancer cells. The medicines are made to attack and kill cancer cells that grow quickly. Some normal cells also grow quickly. Because of this, chemotherapy can also harm those cells. This can cause side effects.
The medicines travel all through your body in your bloodstream. They may stop cell growth, kill cancer cells, or help your immune system attack the cells.
When might chemotherapy be used for breast cancer?
Chemotherapy may be able to cure breast cancer. This means the tumor disappears and doesn’t grow back. If a cure isn’t possible, chemotherapy may help keep the cancer from growing or spreading. If the cancer is advanced and can’t be controlled, chemotherapy may help ease symptoms caused by cancer and improve your quality of life. A doctor with special training in cancer treatment (oncologist) will talk to you about the goals of chemotherapy and the best treatment plan for you.
Your doctor may advise chemotherapy in any of these situations:
- Before surgery. This is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Chemotherapy may be used to shrink the tumor so that it’s smaller. This may allow you to have surgery to remove just part of the breast (breast-conserving surgery), instead of the entire breast (mastectomy).
- After surgery. This is called adjuvant chemotherapy. Adjuvant chemotherapy helps keep any cancer cells that are left from growing and spreading. Whether your doctor advises it depends on the size of the tumor, if it has spread to lymph nodes, and other factors. Chemotherapy is often given after surgery to remove breast cancer, and may be given every 2 or 3 weeks.
- When the breast cancer has spread to other parts of your body. Chemotherapy travels around the body to kill cancer cells. So it can be used to kill cancer cells that have spread. How long this treatment lasts depends on how much the tumors shrink.
4. Hormone Therapy
Hormones are chemicals in the body that help the body function. Some of them help control how normal, healthy cells grow. For some types of breast cancer, female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone can also cause breast cancer cells to grow. In these cases, hormone therapy is used to help prevent the growth, spread, and recurrence of breast cancer. Recurrence is when the cancer comes back after treatment. There are different kinds of hormone treatments used for breast cancer. Each type works a bit differently. They all have the same goal of stopping hormones from getting to the tumor.
How Life changes after Breast Cancer Surgery?
After a breast cancer surgery on your armpit, your nurse will show you exercises to help you recover. Do them until you have full movement back in your arm and shoulder.
Don’t lift or carry anything heavy, or drive while your scars heal up. Until your surgeon has given you the nod, don’t do any housework (such as vacuuming, mopping or cleaning) with your affected arm. If you have had a mastectomy, you’ll have a lightweight artificial breast shape (prosthesis) to put inside your bra. After about 4 to 6 weeks you will be ready for your permanent prosthesis. Many types of artificial breast shapes are available free on the NHS. Your artificial breast shape sits inside your bra. Women who have had part of a breast removed can use a partial prosthesis or shell prosthesis.
Don’t lift or carry anything heavy, or drive, while your scars heal up. After wide local excision this is likely to be after about 2 weeks. After mastectomy this may take longer. Check with your surgeon or breast care nurse when it is okay to do heavier work (such as vacuuming or shopping) with your affected arm. But do carry on with your arm exercises and some light exercise. It will help you recover more quickly. What you can manage will vary, depending on how much surgery you’ve had. Some women find even filling a kettle too heavy at first. The main thing is to take it easy and stop if you feel any strain.
What precautions to be taken after Breast Cancer Surgery?
The procedures for Breast Cancer Surgery are typically an outpatient procedure. You will be instructed to do the following:
- Keep the surgical area clean and dry.
- Keep a bandage over the surgical site and may have one or more tubes to drain blood and fluids that collect during the healing process. You must empty the drains, measure the fluid, and report any problems that your doctor may tell you to watch out for.
- Avoid vigorous activity for about four weeks, or as directed by your doctor.
- Try not to lift anything heavier than five pounds for about a week, or longer if directed by your doctor.
- Wear a well-fitting, very supportive bra 24 hours a day for the first week.
What is Cost of Breast Cancer Treatment and Surgery in India?
Breast Cancer Treatment Cost in India
Let us provide the latest cost for breast cancer treatment in India for 2018
The breast cancer treatment cost in India varies from INR 9,00,000 to INR 20,00,000. Let us give you a clear picture about the breast cancer treatment cost in private and government hospitals. The below table shows the updated cost for the year 2018.
For stage 0, 1 & 2:
Types of Hospital Breast Cancer Treatment Cost in India (Approx.)
Private Hospitals (1) – Expensive INR 9,00,000 – INR 10,00,000 (USD 13,165 – USD 14,628)
Private Hospitals (2)-Moderately Expensive INR 6,00,000 – INR 7,00,000 (USD 8,778 – USD 10,241)
Government Hospitals INR 2,50,000 – INR 3,50,000 (USD 3,657 – USD 5,120)
From the above table, we can come to a conclusion that on an average, breast cancer treatment cost in India varies from hospital to hospital. If you are planning to seek a breast cancer treatment in India from an expensive private hospital (1), the cost would be higher for the whole treatment for the stage 0, stage 1 and stage 2 cancer.
The charges would range between INR 9,00,000 – INR 10,00,000 (USD 13,165 – USD 14,628). And, if you are opting for a private hospital which is moderately expensive (2), the cost for the whole treatment for the stage 0, stage 1 and stage 2 would range from INR 6,00,000 – INR 7,00,000 (USD 8,778 – USD 10,241). The government hospital would charge pretty less than the private hospitals i.e. INR 2,50,000 – INR 3,50,000 (USD 3,657 – USD 5,120).
For stage 3 & 4 :
Types of Hospital Breast Cancer Treatment Cost in India (Approx.)
Private Hospitals (1) – Expensive INR 19,00,000 – INR 20,00,000 (USD 27,795 – USD 29,259)
Private Hospitals (2)-Moderately Expensive INR 13,00,000 – INR 14,00,000 (USD 19,020 – USD 20,483)
Government Hospitals INR 6,00,000 – INR 7,00,000 (USD 8,778 – USD 10,241)
If you want to seek treatment for stage 3 and stage 4, the breast cancer treatment cost in India gets doubled as the number of cycles is more for chemo cycles and targeted therapy. As explained above the same goes here to.
For a private hospital (Expensive) (1), the cost are extremely high for the whole treatment of stage 3 and stage 4 cancer i.e. INR 19,00,000 – INR 20,00,000 (USD 27,795 – USD 29,259). And for a private hospital (moderately expensive) (2), the costs will be average for the whole treatment of stage 3 and stage 4 i.e. INR 13,00,000 – INR 14,00,000 (USD 19,020 – USD 20,483). Further, in a government hospital the cost will be pretty less as compared to the private ones i.e. INR 6,00,000 – INR 7,00,000 (USD 8,778 – USD 10,241).
Breast Cancer Treatments in India
Let us give you some insights about the breast cancer treatments available in India.
The decisions regarding the breast cancer treatment in India is made with the mutual understanding of both (patient and doctor) after taking into consideration the current stage of breast cancer.
The treatment is done by the following methods:
1. Surgical Treatment : The surgical treatment involves breast-conserving surgery (BCS) or mastectomy. Also, in BCS only the tissue affected by cancer plus a node of normal tissue is removed. In surgical treatment, the primary goal is to remove cancer and determine its stage. With BCS (also known as partial mastectomy or lumpectomy), only cancerous tissue and a rim of normal tissue (tumor margin) are removed. Hence, BCS is generally not an option for those diagnosed with a high tumor-to-breast ratio.
2. Radiation Therapy : In a simple term, the radiation therapy is nothing but a method of killing the cancer cells from the breast which a surgery fails to kill. It is done with the help of high energy beams. Radiation therapy can be used as external beam radiation, brachytherapy, or a combination of both. This method is suggested depending on the type, stage, and location of the tumor, as well as patient characteristics, and doctor and patient preference.
3. Systemic Therapy : Let us shed some light that the systemic therapy is a drugs/substance which travels in the bloodstream and affects all parts of the body. And the process which can be used for systemic therapy includes Chemotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapy.
a. Chemotherapy : According to the research done by American Cancer Society, it has been found that combinations of drugs are more effective than one drug alone for treatment of early-stage breast cancer. Depending on the combination of drugs used i.e. adjuvant and neoadjuvant, chemotherapy is usually given for 3 to 6 months. The treatment by both the drugs is most effective if the dose is complete and given in the assigned time frame without any delay.
b. Hormone (anti-estrogen) therapy : When a hormone is produced by the ovaries in addition to other tissues called as Estrogen, promoting the growth of breast cancer cells. The patients with these tumors can be treated with hormone therapy to lower the estrogen levels or block the effects of estrogen on the growth of cancer cells. These drugs are different from menopausal hormone therapies, which actually increase hormone levels.
c. Targeted therapy : In simple terms, targeted therapy are performed to block the growth of cancer cells by killing the specifically targeted cells which can results in the growth of the tumor, instead of just killing the rapidly dividing cells (e.g. with traditional chemotherapy). So, target therapies are expected to be more effective than older forms of treatments and are less harmful to normal cells.
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