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Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the commonest cancer in women, and can occur at any age. It starts as a painless limp in the breast, which may be very small piece of suspect tissue for laboratory examination, and by mammography. Treatment of breast cancer may involve surgery, drugs and/or radiotherapy; the general approach nowadays is not to remove the whole breast but to conserve as much tissue as possible. In some cases a 'lumpectomy' (removing only the lamps) may be sufficent. The exact treatment depends on the precise nature of the growth and the spread; for further information.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms include the following:

  • Dimpling of the breast
  • Lump in the underarm
  • Nipple discharge, pain, or inversion
  • Skin irritation of the breast or nipple
  • Swelling

Treatment

Surgery may consist only of breast lump removal or partial, total, or radical mastectomy, usually with the removal of one or more lymph nodes from the armpit. Special procedures to find the most likely lymph nodes to which cancer may have spread are often used.

Radiation therapy can be directed at the tumor, the breast, the chest wall, or other tissues known or suspected to have remaining cancer cells.

Chemotherapy is often used to kill cancer cells that may still remain in the breast or that may have already spread to other parts of the body.

Prevention

Breast cancer cannot be prevented. Performing monthly breast self-examinations, having regular clinical examinations, and following recommendations regarding mammograms can increase early detection of the disease. Screening may help prevent death from the disease, especially in women over age fifty.

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