Statistics and numbers
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 2017 data http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/breast/statistics/?region=o n Breast Cancer is considered the most common cancer among Canadian Women (excluding non=melanoma skin cancer). In Ontario, breast cancer represents 25% of all cancer cases in this province. Compared to the rest of Ontario, Toronto’s breast cancer hospitalization rate was higher, whereas the mortality rate was lower as compared to other cities in the province. (Toronto public health website) https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/85a1-tph-hsi-breast-cancer-may-16-2017
The 2017 statistics for breast cancer are
26,300 patients were diagnosed with breast cancer
5,000 women died of breast cancer and this constitutes 13% of cancer deaths in Canada
On average, 72 Canadian women are diagnosed with breast cancer each day.
On average 14 Canadian women die of breast cancer each day.
There are several treatment options for breast cancer such as
Surgery lumpectomy and axillary node dissection/sampling is the most widely used surgical treatment followed by the mastectomy.
Radiation therapy to the breast/ chest wall
Hormonal treatment such as Tamoxifen, Letrozole, or Anastrozole
Targeted therapy such as Herceptin, Lapatinib, Neratinib and Everolimus
Choice of treatment modality
When it comes to the lines of treatment for breast cancer, it is the responsibility of the treating oncologist. The types and sequence of the oncology interventions mentioned above depend mainly on these factors: your breast cancer stage at presentation, the cancer characteristics which means how big it a tumour, how aggressive is it, and what is the status of the draining lymph nodes, and the hormone receptor status. Generally speaking, early-stage tumours (Stage I/II) are treated with surgery first then followed by chemotherapy, hormonal treatment or both with or without radiation or targeted therapies. On the other hand, locally advanced breast cancer cases need to start with chemotherapy for tumour reduction followed by surgery then radiation and hormonal treatment with or without targeted agents.
What do you expect during and after treatment for breast cancer?
The different lines of treatment for breast cancer such as surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormonal treatment, and targeted agents offer you the benefit of fighting your cancer and reducing the tumour burden in your body, The aim of these treatments is to improve your chance of survival and cure from breast cancer. Nevertheless, this does not happen without a cost, so every treatment you receive for cancer carries a certain amount of toxicities such as the drop in your immune system, weakness or fatigue, poor appetite, skin changes, poor digestion, hair loss, and rarely development of secondary cancers.
Then the question, what to do further?
Given the fact that conventional cancer treatments are non-dispensable for cure or control of breast cancer, we need to work on reducing the side effects or toxicities of the active cancer care therapies. To achieve this difficult balance, we need to improve your immune system to help you continue on your active chemotherapy or radiation without a drop in the immunity. Also, good nutrition that includes sufficient amounts of protein, healthy fats and vitamins and minerals is imperative in supporting your health and immunity during chemotherapy and radiation. Natural herbal support such as curcumin and supplements such as melatonin. Other supportive means include, but not limited to the high dose intravenous vitamin C, Mistletoe, and Indole 3 Carbinol. Acupuncture also has a role in relieving symptoms due to chemotherapy such as nausea, vomiting and fatigue.
How to get your support during chemotherapy and radiation?
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