Advanced breast cancer treatment in India for early and advanced breast cancer
In 2020, more than 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer and 685,000 deaths worldwide.
Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer type in Women. Earlier, cervical cancer used to be the most prevalent cancer in women.
Moreover, the average age of women with breast cancer is reducing every year. Young females as early as in their thirties are now diagnosed with breast cancer.
However, with the advancement of technology, experience, and new protocols, the survival rates of breast cancer patients are also increasing. With breast reconstruction surgery, females can live the next phase of their life without even telling anybody about the event.
Let’s meet Oana, a 32-year-old female from Lagos, Nigeria.
Before moving forward, Let’s first understand what breast cancer is.
It is cancer that starts in the breast. Cancer begins when cells start to grow out of control. The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age and weight gain. There are several types of breast cancer that depend on which cells in the breast turn into cancer. A Breast is made up of three parts: lobules, ducts, and connective tissue.
The lobules are the glands that produce milk and ducts are the tubes that carry milk to the nipple. The connective tissue which comprises fibrous and fatty tissue encircles and holds everything together. Most breast cancers begin in the ducts or lobules. Breast cancer can spread out of the breast through blood vessels and lymph vessels.
Breast cancer is mainly divided into 2 types – invasive and non-invasive. Invasive cancer spreads from the breast ducts to other parts of the breast whereas non-invasive cancer has not spread from the original tissue.
Ductal Carcinoma In Situ
It is a non-invasive condition where the cancer cells are confined to the ducts in your breast and haven’t invaded the surrounding tissue.
Lobular Carcinoma In Situ
It is cancer that grows in the milk-producing glands of your breast. In this also, the cancer cells have not invaded the surrounding tissues.
Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
It is the most widespread type of breast cancer. This type of breast cancer develops in your breast’s milk ducts and invades surrounding tissues in the breast. Once it spreads to surrounding tissues, it begins to spread to other organs and tissues.
Invasive Lobular Carcinoma
It first develops in your breast’s lobules and has already invaded the surrounding tissues.
The cells are limited to the ducts and have not spread to surrounding tissues. Stage 0 is also called Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS).
- Stage 1 A – At this stage, the tumor has not affected the lymph nodes or there are small groups of cancer cells in the lymph nodes. During this stage, the tumors measure up to 2 centimeters.
- Stage 1B – Cancer is found in nearby lymph nodes and either there is no tumor in the breast or is smaller than 2cm.
- Stage 2 A – At this stage, the tumor is 2 centimeters and has started to spread to 1-3 lymph nodes or is 2-5 centimeters and has not spread to lymph nodes.
- Stage 2 B – At this stage, the tumor is between 2-5 cm and has spread to 1-3 axillary lymph nodes or it is larger than 5cm and has not spread to any lymph nodes.
- Stage 3A – At this stage, the tumor is up to 5 cm, and it has spread to 1-3 axillary lymph nodes, or the tumor is larger than 5 cm and has spread to a few of the lymph nodes.
- Stage 3B – A Tumor has conquered the chest wall or skin and may or may not have conquered up to nine lymph nodes.
- Stage 3C – At this stage, cancer is found in 10 or more axillary lymph nodes.
At this stage, cancer can have a tumor of any size. Cancer has spread to many organs that include bones, liver, lungs, or brain.
- Age: The risk factors of breast cancer increase with age with women over the age of 50.
- Family history of Breast Cancer: Women who carry certain mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have higher chances of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or both. People take over these genes from their parents.
- History of Breast Cancer: Women who had breast cancer in the past are more likely to have it again than those who have no history of the disease.
- Dense Breast Tissue: Women with more dense breasts are likely to receive breast cancer.
- Estrogen Exposure: Estrogen exposure could increase due to people having their periods earlier or entering menopause at a later age.
- Bodyweight: Women who are overweight or develop obesity after menopause also have higher chances of developing breast cancer.
- Consumption of Alcohol: Women who consume alcohol (moderate to high levels of a drinker) have a higher risk of breast cancer than those who do not (and light drinkers).
- Hormonal Treatment: According to NCI, oral Contraceptives may slightly increase the risk of breast cancer.
The first symptom of breast cancer typically appears with a thickened tissue in the breast or a lump in the breast or an armpit. Other symptoms include:
- Pain in the armpits
- Sunken nipple
- Scrambling of the skin on the breast or nipple
- Rash around the nipples
- Discharge from a nipple
- Inflammation of the skin of the breast
- Variation in the size or shape of the breast
Most breast lumps are not cancerous; however, women should visit a doctor for an examination if they notice such lumps.
Tests that can help to diagnose breast cancer include:
- Breast Exam: The doctor will examine your breast and lymph nodes in your armpit to feel any lumps or any abnormalities.
- Ultrasound: It uses sound waves to create a picture of the tissue deep in your breast. It helps doctors to distinguish between a solid mass, such as a tumor, and a benign cyst.
- Mammogram: It is an imaging test that can see below the surface of the breast. If your doctor suspects that you may have a tumor or suspicious spots, then they will request a mammogram.
- MRI: It is a type of scan that uses a magnet linked to a computer that provides detailed pictures of areas in the breast.
- Biopsy: In this test, tissue or fluid is removed from the suspicious area of the breast to test for cancer. There are different kinds of biopsies such as fine-needle aspiration, core biopsy, or open biopsy.
After the stage of the disease is determined then the surgeon decides the treatment plan for the specific case of breast cancer. Most of the time, It’s a multi-modality treatment.
Surgery is the most popular treatment for breast cancer. However, surgery needs to be complemented with another treatment too such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation, or hormone therapy.
There are several types of breast cancer surgery used to remove cancer cells that include:
This removes the tumor and surrounding tissues which are affected.
In this surgery, the entire breast is removed and in a double mastectomy, both breasts are removed.
Breast conservation surgery
BCS (breast-conserving surgery) removes the cancer while preserving as much of the normal breast as possible. Some healthy tissue and lymph nodes are usually removed as well. Depending on how much tissue is removed, breast-conserving surgery is referred to as a lumpectomy, quadrantectomy, partial mastectomy, or segmental mastectomy.
Sentinel Node Biopsy
In this surgery, a few of the lymph nodes that receive drainage from the tumor are removed and tested for cancer.
Axillary Lymph Node Dissection
If the lymph nodes removed during sentinel node biopsy contain cancer cells, then your doctor will remove a few more lymph nodes for testing.
Contralateral Prophylactic Mastectomy
In this surgery, even though cancer is present in one of the breasts, people tend to remove the healthier breast to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer again.
Breast reconstruction surgery
Many women having breast cancer surgery have the option to reconstruct their breast to rebuild the shape of their breast. Breast reconstruction usually falls into two categories: Implant reconstruction and Flap reconstruction. In Implant reconstruction, breast implants are done to form a new breast mound whereas, in flap reconstruction, a patient’s own tissue from another part of the body is used to form a new breast.
Most women who have a lumpectomy or breast conservation surgery might end up with breast deformity as a result of the surgery hence oncoplastic surgery is done either at the time of the initial surgery or after completion of treatment.
It is a drug treatment used to destroy cancer cells. If there is a scope of reoccurrence of cancer, then the doctor might prescribe chemotherapy drugs to kill cancer cells. Sometimes, doctors might choose to administer chemotherapy prior to surgery to shrink the tumor and remove it easily.
In this therapy, high-powered radiation is used to target and kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy is done after the surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells that might be left after the surgery is done.
Targeted therapy uses drugs to target specific genes and proteins that lead to the growth of cancer cells. This treatment can affect the tissue environment that enhances the growth and survival of cells that are related to cancer growth like blood vessel cells.
If your breast cancer is sensitive to hormones, then this treatment is carried out by doctors. This therapy works by blocking your body’s production of hormones (Estrogen and Progesterone). This treatment is carried out to prevent hormone-sensitive breast cancers from returning after treatment.
Sequence of treatment
- Early Disease: If someone has an early disease, the sequence of the treatment is Surgery which is followed by Chemotherapy and/or Radiation therapy. In some cases, hormone therapy is also required.
- Locally Advanced disease: In such cases, doctors typically prefer Neo Adjuvant chemotherapy, which is followed by surgery. In Some cases radiation therapy and in some cases hormone therapy may also be required.
- Metastatic disease:
- Single Metastasis/ oligomers: Treatment is the same as a locally advanced disease with extra radiation to the metastasis site.
- Multiple metastases: Palliative chemotherapy is given with hormone therapy and radiation therapy.
When searching for the best country for breast cancer treatment USA, UK, Germany, France, and India are among the top.
The cost of surgery and treatment is very high in developed countries whereas the cost of treatment in India is nearly half without compromising the outcome.
The Indian healthcare system has well-trained doctors, as well as specialized and well-trained operative and post-operative care teams capable of handling complex cases at a reasonable cost.
Hospitals with cutting-edge technology and an experienced team of oncologists, including medical, surgical, and radio oncologists, as well as well-trained paramedical staff.
The oncology team’s and hospital’s success and survival rates should both be taken into account.
You could select from the MedicoExperts Panel, which was created using the above guidelines.
You should not rely on just one doctor for a successful outcome and higher success and survival rates, but rather on a team of doctors. This is also known as the Tumour Board method.
The tumor board approach is a new way to improve survival rates in blood cancer patients. Highly skilled medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists collaborate closely on the case to achieve the best possible treatment outcome.
With this tumor board approach to treating patients, MedicoExperts helps patients all over the world get the best possible treatment and survival rates.
The survival rate depends on different stages of cancer in women. The 5-year survival rate for local breast cancer (Stage IA, Stage IIA & Stage IIB) is 99%. The 5-year survival rate for regional breast cancer (Stage IB, Stage IIA, Stage IIB and all Stage III) is 86%. The 5-year survival rate for distant breast cancer (stage 4) is very low.
The cost of undergoing breast cancer treatment in India is relatively much less compared to the US, UK, or Thailand. The affordability in cost comes with technological advancement and superior comprehensive surgical care which is at par with the international standards.
A medical evaluation is done to determine the site, size, and spread of cancer. The cost of cancer evaluation starts from 500 USD (37858 INR).
Based on the evaluation, the onco-surgeon will be able to comment on the patient’s treatment plan. The cost for breast cancer treatment in India starts from 2200 USD (166578 INR).
The onco-surgeon would suggest either simple, radical, or modified radical mastectomy based on the spread of the cancer cells. For a complete cure, the surgeon may also suggest chemotherapy and radiation therapy along with surgery based on the patient’s condition. The cost of chemotherapy ranges from 500 to 1000 USD / cycle (37858 to 75717 INR).
However, the cost depends upon multiple factors including stage, treatment, protocol, age, and associated comorbidities. You should treat this cost as an indicative cost.
To know, what would be cost in your case, you may like to get in touch with us and we can advise tentative cost and treatment plan.
Frequently Asked Questions and patient concerns:
Is Breast Cancer curable?
Breast cancer cannot always be cured but can be treated. Early detection of cancerous cells and tumors is more likely to be cured after treatment. After a patient has been free of symptoms for 5 years or more than some oncologists consider their patient as cured. However, there are chances of some cancer cells that may stay in the body for many years even after treatment.
How to check Breast Cancer at home?
It is also called breast cancer self-examination where women can check their breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, hardened knot, or any other changes. Look for any swelling, changes in the nipples like any sores, peeling, or change in their direction. Check your nipples for fluid discharge.
How to cure Breast Cancer without surgery?
Cryoablation is an alternative to surgery of breast cancer that uses a needle-like probe to freeze and eradicate the tumor. But it only replaces surgery and does not negate the need for radiation or chemical treatments. The non-surgery plan is open only to women with certain types of breast cancers that respond to drug treatment.
How to prevent Breast Cancer naturally?
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Be Physically active
- Avoid alcohol
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Don’t smoke
- Avoid contraceptive pills especially after age 35
- Breast Feed
How many chemo treatments for Breast Cancer?
The course of treatment usually takes between 3 to 6 months. You might have sessions every 2 to 4 weeks. After each set of treatments, you have a break to allow your body to recover. Each session is known as a cycle, and you may have up to 8 cycles of chemotherapy.
How to diagnose Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer can be diagnosed through multiple tests that include:
- Diagnostic mammogram
How to cure Breast Cancer with food?
Research suggests that these foods may lower the risk of breast cancer:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Citrus fruits
- Fatty Fish
- Fermented Foods
- Allium vegetables
- Peaches, apples, and pears
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Herbs and spices
How many radiotherapy sessions for Breast Cancer?
Radiotherapy is typically given daily for 5 to 6 weeks. Most people have 5 therapies each week, one treatment a day from Monday through Friday with a break at the weekend.
How common is Breast Cancer in men?
Men too have breast tissue like women do, but there are very rare cases of breast cancer that may develop in them. About 1 out of 100 men are diagnosed with breast cancers.
What puts a woman at high risk for breast cancer?
If you have a family member who has a mutation, especially in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, you’re at a higher risk.
Individuals with a hereditary risk of breast cancer may face an 85 percent lifetime risk of developing the disease. Breast biopsy results that were abnormal in the past. You’re more likely to get cancer if you have atypical cells.
Does breast cancer spread fast?
The grading and staging of breast cancer can give you some clues about how aggressive your cancer is.
For example, Grade 3 breast cancer is more likely to spread quickly than in grades 1 and 2.
Stage 4 breast cancer is the fastest spreader by definition, as it has already spread beyond the breast tissue.
What is breast reconstruction?
After a mastectomy, breast reconstruction may be used to help restore the appearance and feel of the breast. Many women who have had a breast removed choose to have it rebuilt, in some cases at the same time as the mastectomy, but more often afterward.