Breast Cancer Treatments
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Radiation and surgery followed by chemotherapy are some of the breast cancer treatments available to patients. Find out more treatment options in this video.
Transcript: There are more than two million breast cancer survivors in the United States, and that's to the credit...
There are more than two million breast cancer survivors in the United States, and that's to the credit of today's growing number of treatment options! Breast cancer treatment goals are twofold: to remove as much of the cancer as possible and to prevent it from coming back. To do that, doctors rely on five treatment methods: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy. Surgery is the most common treatment option, and it may involve removing just the cancerous tumor, as in a lumpectomy. More serious prognoses may require a mastectomy, the removal of the entire breast, usually including the nipple, often with lymph nodes in the armpit that may be affected. Many women who go through surgery receive additional treatment, like radiation, which uses high powered beams of energy to kill cancer cells. This can occur via an external machine, or through radioactive implants placed inside the body. Side-effects of radiation include a red rash at the treatment site, along with general fatigue. Radiation AND surgery are local treatments, made to eradicate cancer in one, targeted area. The remaining three treatment options are systemic, which means they attempt to control cancer cells ALL OVER the body. Chemotherapy, for example, is an oral or injected medication, that works by either stopping cancer cells from multiplying, or killing them completely. Unfortunately, chemo may also eradicate HEALTHY cells, which is why nausea, vomiting, hair loss and fever tend to occur. Another systemic treatment, hormone therapy, is effective for about two-thirds of cancers. Cancer cells contain receptors for estrogen, which they depend upon to grow. Hormone therapy seeks to block the body's estrogen from ever reaching the tumor. Tamoxifen is one such drug. It binds to estrogen receptors on cells, so that estrogen can't. Aromatase inhibitors, like the Arimedex and Femara, can reduce the body's production of estrogen while stopping it altogether in post-menopausal women. Menopausal-like symptoms, including decreased sex drive, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness, are common side-effects of hormone therapy. The final treatment option, targeted therapy, uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack ONLY specific cancer cells, leaving healthy cells intact. A popular example, Herceptin, blocks a protein called HER2, which some breast cancer cells need to grow and survive. Understand that targeted therapy of this type will ONLY work if the cancer is sensitive to the HER2 protein. This is true for about one-fourth of all cancers, and is determined by analyzing tissue samples in a lab. Any of these three systemic treatments may be used with the goal of killing any cancer cells that remain in the body after surgery or radiation, which is known as adjuvant therapy. Similarly, systemic treatments may be used BEFORE local treatments, hopefully shrinking a tumor and making it easier to remove. With so many treatment options available, creating the perfect plan to treat YOUR form of breast cancer shouldn't be hard. See your doctor and discuss your options.More »
Last Modified: 2013-07-24 | Tags »
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Are you dealing with cancer in your 20s? Find out how this differs from other age group cancers and learn about available cancer treatments here.
Last Modified: 2013-06-13 | Tags »
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Anticipating chemotherapy can be tough due to fear and doubt throughout the process. Watch this video to learn more about anticipationg chemo.
Last Modified: 2012-11-17 | Tags »
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How do you know when a mole is benign and when a mole might be cancerous? Watch this to know what signs to look out for.
Transcript: Any mole that changes in color or grows bigger should be checked out by a dermatologist. In addition,...
Any mole that changes in color or grows bigger should be checked out by a dermatologist. In addition, a mole that has uneven borders or appears to be asymmetrical can be a melanoma. While a mole on its own is not necessarily cancerous, it's important to be aware that people with more than 50 of these growths are more likely to be candidates for melanoma. If diagnosed early, most skin cancers can be treated!More »
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Actinic keratoses are pre-cancerous lesions that may develop into a serious case of skin cancer. Watch this to learn more about the risk.
Transcript: Actinic keratoses, or AKs, are a common skin condition characterized by rough, scaly patches, on the...
Actinic keratoses, or AKs, are a common skin condition characterized by rough, scaly patches, on the top layer of skin. AKs occur due to sun exposure over long periods of time. Although AKs are not actually cancer they are classified as the earliest stage in its development. AKs are not always dangerous, but 16 percent of untreated cases will grow into squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.More »
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Photodynamic therapy destroys pre-cancerous cells using medication and light. Watch this to learn more about how it works.
Transcript: Photodynamic therapy is the destruction of infected cells using a combination of a medication and a light...
Photodynamic therapy is the destruction of infected cells using a combination of a medication and a light source. When undergoing photodynamic therapy, a patient will start by applying topical medication. Several hours later, a doctor will treat the affected area with a light source. The light interacts with the medication to destroy pre-cancerous cells.More »
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Surgery is a common option for actinic keratosis treatment. Watch to learn about the method of removal.
Transcript: Cryosurgery is a freezing procedure where liquid nitrogen is applied to skin lesions with a spraying...
Cryosurgery is a freezing procedure where liquid nitrogen is applied to skin lesions with a spraying device. The nitrogen freezes the skin's surface. As the skin heals, AKs are sloughed off. Sometimes, lesions progress to such an advanced state that a procedure called curettage is preformed. When this happens, a patient first receives local anesthesia. Then, a spoon-shaped instrument called a curet is used to scrape off AKs. A similar treatment option that also requires local anesthesia is called dermabrasion. During this procedure, a rapidly moving brush is used to abrade and erode the affected skin cells.More »
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Prescription cream can work to treat and remove actinic keratoses. Watch this to learn more.
Transcript: Medical therapy for AKs requires a patient to apply a prescription cream to affected areas. The creams...
Medical therapy for AKs requires a patient to apply a prescription cream to affected areas. The creams differ in method of action and treatment time. The most frequently used medicinal treatment is a cream called 5-Fluoroucracil, or 5-FU. 5-FU destroys AK cells by blocking chemical reactions that are essential for the lesions to survive. It is imperative that pregnant and nursing women avoid using 5-FU cream. Another topical cream, called Imiquimod, must be applied for four to sixteen weeks and modifies the skin's immune system, encouraging it to reject the sun-damaged cells and fight the lesions. Diclofenac sodium gel is another topical medication, which is used to treat multiple AKs. The gel, which destroys AKs, is applied twice a day for two to three monthsMore »
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What are the common warning signs of basal cell carcinoma? Watch this to know what to look out for.
Transcript: Although growths can vary in appearance, there are several warning signs to look for that may signal...
Although growths can vary in appearance, there are several warning signs to look for that may signal the onset of basal cell carcinoma. The most common type of BCC, nodular basal cell carcinoma, usually resembles a smooth, round pimple. Pale yellow or gray in color, nodular tumors may bleed after the slightest injury.Pigmented BCC is similar to nodular BCC, but it is more likely to appear in people with dark hair and dark eyes. These growths are brown or black in color, and can sometimes be mistaken for melanoma, a more aggressive cancer. A less common type of basal cell carcinoma, superficial BCC, is known for its slow spread across the skin. Superficial BCC tumors have slightly crusted surfaces, which are sometimes bordered by tiny threadlike formations. These tumors usually appear on the torso, but can also develop on the face and neck. Another uncommon variant of this cancer is called sclerosing or morpheaform BCC. This type of growth often resembles a scar and can be yellow or white in color.More »
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Squamous cell carcinoma is more common in some people than it is in others. Watch this to learn more about the risk factors.
Transcript: Unlike the other types of non-melanoma skin cancer, SCC can arise from chronically scarred or inflamed...
Unlike the other types of non-melanoma skin cancer, SCC can arise from chronically scarred or inflamed skin. The Human Papaloma Virus, which often causes warts, can also lead to SCC. People with weakened immune systems, or immunosuppression, have a higher risk of developing SCC. Possible causes of a weak immune system include the HIV virus and organ transplant medication. As with other skin cancers, people with fair skin, light hair and blue or green eyes have a higher risk of developing SCC. Many doctors believe that a family history of the disease, or a personal history of any cancer, may also be factors. SCC crops up most frequently in the male population over forty, so older men need to be extra vigilant about checking their skin for signs of cancer.More »
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What are the common warning signs of squamous cell carcinoma? Watch this to know what to look out for.
Transcript: Years of sun damage can cause these cells to change in size and shape, resulting in the tumors that are...
Years of sun damage can cause these cells to change in size and shape, resulting in the tumors that are characteristic of SCC. Often, SCCs appear first as rough, scaly patches on the skin. These precancerous lesions, known as actinic keratoses, or AKs, can eventually develop into SCC. The typical SCC manifests itself as a new or enlarging tumor that is thick and rough. Most tumors emerge on the head or neck, although any skin can be affected. Squamous cell carcinoma often appears to be a wart-like growth or a scaly, red patch that crusts on the top, and occasionally bleeds.More »
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How does melanoma progress and develop? Watch this video to learn more about melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer.
Transcript: Melanoma begins in skin cells called melanocytes which produce a pigment called melanin, the agent that...
Melanoma begins in skin cells called melanocytes which produce a pigment called melanin, the agent that gives skin its color and protects the body from sun damage. When you spend time in the sun, the melanocytes make more protective melanin, causing your skin to tan. If you receive too much sunlight, however, the melanocytes may begin to mutate and turn cancerous.More »
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