Cancer must be by now the scariest word we fear to hear at the doctor´s office. There are too many cases- affecting every age and gender-and some scientists and doctors think that there are environmental and lifestyle factors that might be increasing the figures.
Thank God, if before cancer was a death row sentence now it can be treated. Still, the sooner the cancer is detected, the better chances we have to stop it in its track and heal our bodies. That is why doctors always advise having regular checkups. Early detection is key, especially if you have some previous family records.
Dr. Kinda- Specialist Radiologist at HealthBay Clinic- give us more advice on what should we do to avoid breast cancer.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO AVOID BREAST CANCER?
The most common breast cancer risk factors are related to estrogen exposure over the course of our lifetime. You can minimize your risks following these recommendations:
- Breastfeeding matures the cells that produce milk, reducing risk. This is a cumulative process. The more the better!
- Minimize use of hormone therapy for treatment of menopausal symptoms, use the lowest dose possible and for the shortest duration needed.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Did you know that fatty tissue actually produces estrogen?
- Avoid or minimize alcohol use. Alcohol and estrogen are both metabolized in the liver. even one drink per day can increase your risk.
- Exercise is really very important. Women who are more active have lower estrogen levels.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Higher intake of saturated fats increases the risk of cancers. Likewise, increasing intake of anti-oxidant rich foods, such as berries and flax may decrease the risk of cancer.
Anyone who treats breast cancer can tell you that the earlier the diagnosis, the more likely and easier it is to cure. So, add to your agenda a yearly mammogram starting at the age of 40.
WHAT CANCER TREATMENTS ARE OUT THERE?
When it comes to the treatment, science has walked a long way and now there are a lot of options- Dr. Kinda says. As you might imagine, the stage and the extent of your breast cancer is an important factor in making decisions about your treatment options.
When breast cancer is relatively small, treatment might be limited to remove the tumor and give radiation in the affected area, plus sentinel lymph node excision. The sentinel lymph is the first lymph node to which cancer is likely to spread. If sentinel lymph node was tested negative, it means no chemotherapy will be required. In case of lymph nodes being positive, chemotherapy will be necessary.
If the tumor was big in size, advanced or multifocal mastectomy may be the option, with chemotherapy after the surgery.
Sometimes chemo might be used before surgery to try to shrink the tumor so it can be removed with less extensive surgery.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Cancer is difficult to handle and it is important to have the right people and professionals to accompany you along in the process if the diagnosis is confirmed. Normally, you will have with you a multidisciplinary team. Keeping your mindset positive and happy is critical to fighting cancer. We ask Dr. Pablo Perez- Psycho Oncologist- how is the journey for most patients.
“The journey for cancer patients can be very stressful. From the initial tests to get the diagnosis, the surgery that might be required or the last interventions and follow-ups… every step of the way might be a source of anxiety, fear, and discomfort not only physical but also emotional.”
In order to help we need to focus on reducing the confusion. It is convenient that the patient knows and understands the process, the diagnosis and the options that might come afterwards if that is their will. There are some patients that actually might prefer not to know.
It is important for family members to avoid overprotection or just silence about this situation. Patients will need to express their feelings and fears with total freedom, especially with their dear ones. It is important that they feel loved and sheltered. Some advice will be to listen without judging, show your availability and that you want to be there for them, hug, be close and do not give advice unless requested.
When the patient doesn’t feel confused, normally he/she is less stressed. But there are other ways he or she can distract. For example: exercising, socializing, etc… always making sure the patient is not at risk. There are some very powerful techniques such as mindfulness, or heart coherence that help a lot to reduce stress too.
AS IF NEW…
In the case of breast cancer survivors, it can be important for ladies to be able to go back to their original shape. There has been an increase in breast reconstruction surgeries in the region. We speak to Dr. Salivaras- Cosmetic & Reconstructive Plastic Surgeon from Clinica Joelle- to explain us about what entails this surgery and when does it need to be planned (before or at the same time of the mastectomy).
“For women mastectomy is equal to amputation. Breast means femininity, motherhood, and sexuality.” – Dr. Salivaras
ABOUT THE RECONSTRUCTIVE PROCESS
Dr. Salivaras keeps explaining. Everything depends on the type of cancer, the stage and the treatments to follow. Reconstruction can be done at the same time with tumor excision or later. In case there are other treatments to follow such as radiotherapy and in cases where the total cure has not been achieved, then we avoid performing any reconstruction at the same time.
When everything has been completed and cleared, then we will do the breast reconstruction. This way we avoid complications and we are sure that the patient has been fully cured. All other cases can be potentially considered for immediate reconstruction.
There are different options for breast reconstruction:
- Gradual tissue expansion and implant placement. This is the most popular, easily accepted by the patients, less complicated and risky but it is done in 2 stages.
- Flaps direct, local, regional (from the breast and upper abdomen). This option is common for smaller excisions.
- Flaps distant and free flaps (such as from abdomen, back, gluteal area) with or without implants. This is also a very common alternative but means longer extensive procedures.
- Implant placement directly.
- Fat grafting with or without an implant.
BE IN THE KNOW AND COME TO OUR EVENT
Dubai Fashion News is organizing an event to help raise breast cancer awareness together with HealthBay. Don’t miss the chance to mingle with the doctor and the other speakers and get all your questions answered. Just pop by HealthBay – Verve Villas, Villa nr 12 in Al Wasl Road, Umm Al Sheif on Sunday, 22nd of October, starting 09.00 in the morning.
There will be a lot of information shared, we will get our nails painted in pink, you can participate in the quiz contests and win exciting products and goody bags.
If you are coming, bring your friends along and wear something pink! At the end of the day, we are in Pink Month!