Health Tips: Is it necessary to remove the breast in breast cancer?

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Breast Cancer Treatment : Breast tumor is treated based on the stage of cancer and the general condition of the patient. But is removing the breast necessary to cure this cancer? You can know the answers to some such worrying questions in the article here.

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Breast cancer is becoming a common cause of cancer deaths in women. According to the 2022 data of the World Health Organization, 6,70,000 cases of breast cancer have been reported worldwide. Being a woman by birth is an important risk factor for this disease.

Recently, actress Hina Khan has been found suffering from breast cancer stage 3. Even before this, many celebrities have fallen prey to this deadly disease. Actor Ayushmann Khurrana's wife Tahira Kashyap also shared a photo of her breast removal surgery on social media in 2019. This is not easy for any woman emotionally. In such a situation, is it necessary to remove the breast in breast cancer? It is natural for many such questions to arise in the mind. You can know the answers to these in this article from  Dr. Arun Kumar Goyal, Chairman, Surgical Oncology, Andromeda Cancer Hospital, Sonipat .

Question: Is it necessary to remove the breast in breast cancer?

Answer: Surgery is necessary to remove the tumor, but it is not necessary to remove the breast. We have several different surgical options. About 70% of patients can be treated with partial surgery or breast conservation. For patients who require a mastectomy, the option of breast reconstruction is available.

Question: At what stage of breast cancer the breast has to be removed

Answer: There is a stage called 0 in which breast cancer becomes non-invasive. Surgery is required here. Patients with stage IV or metastatic cancer are not usually offered surgery. 

However, when we talk about breast cancer surgery, there are many options available now.

Breast Removal This is the first and most common surgery for breast cancer, which involves removing the entire breast along with the nipple and areola. Nowadays, it is used in only 30 to 50% of cases.

Breast conservation surgery (BCS): In this surgery, only a part of the breast is removed. This surgery is usually done in stage 1 and stage 2 breast cancer, however, patients with stage 3 breast cancer can also undergo this surgery. If they are receiving neo adjuvant chemotherapy, and the size and extent of the tumor has reduced before surgery. 

Oncoplastic Breast Conservation Surgery (OPBCS): This is an advanced version of breast conservation. In this, the tumor is removed with plastic surgery skills to improve cosmetic and aesthetic appearance. Its results are very good. 

Skin/nipple sparing mastectomy: In some cases, the entire breast needs to be removed due to the extent of the cancer or the reduced risk of a total mastectomy. In such cases, sparing mastectomy can save the breast skin and nipple areola, and the breast can be reconstructed. 

Question: Does breast cancer get cured after breast removal?

Answer: Breast cancer is not an incurable disease. In about 90%-95% of breast cancer cases, patients recover completely if the diagnosis is done early. However, surgery is a part of its treatment. Apart from this, options like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, immunotherapy are also necessary to cure this cancer. 

Question: What happens if breast cancer is not removed?

Answer: If this means no surgery is done, the treatment is incomplete and non-curative. However, if the cancer is removed without removing the entire breast, the cure rate is good provided complete treatment is done, including radiotherapy, chemotherapy and other drug therapy as needed.