Research are going around the world to study and find an optimal way to prevent, detect, and treat breast cancer. Everyone hopes that these research would put an end to the sufferings of cancer patients and improve their quality of life. Due to research taking place actively in determining the breast cancer causes, reducing the risks of breast cancer, latest Lab tests and imaging tests for detection and Breast cancer treatment, people are starting to get more option than before.
Of all, Breast cancer treatments are getting better in the recent times. Hence, it is important to know about all the available options to select the one that will help you the most. Whatever treatment one opts for, they are targeted to do two things
- To get rid of the cancer cells from the body as much as possible
- To take preventable measures so that it doesn’t come back
Deciding on Breast Cancer Treatments
The Doctor is the best person to recommend the type of treatment best suited for you. The recommendations are based on
- The type of breast cancer a person has.
- The type of tumour and the extent to which cancer has spread in the body (which is denoted by the stage of the disease).
- If the tumour has specific features or receptors for oestrogen, progesterone, or HER2 protein.
- Age factor, whether a person has gone through menopause, other health conditions and personal preference is also taken into consideration before recommending a treatment.
Types of Treatment
- Treatments that are followed to completely remove and destroy the tumour and the cancer cells and the nearby lymph nodes are
- Surgery: The whole breast is removed (mastectomy) or the tumour alone is removed along with the tissues around the affected area (lumpectomy). Even within these two surgeries, there are different types.
- Radiation Therapy: This therapy is used to kill the cancer cells with the help of high-energy waves.
- Treatments to destroy and control the cancer cells all over the body are
- Chemotherapy: This treatment makes use of drugs to kill the cancer cells. Powerful medicines are given to fight the disease resulting in side effects like nausea, fatigue, early menopause, hair loss, etc.
- Hormone Therapy: As oestrogen fuels the growth of cancer cells, hormone therapy is effective as drugs are given to prevent hormone production in the body.
- Targeted Therapy: Medicines are given to prompt the body’s own immune system to destroy cancer. Breast cancer cells with high level of a type of protein called HER2 protein are targeted in this treatment. This therapy also has different types of medicines based on the advancement of cancer.
Tips for Choosing a Treatment
Though it will be the doctor who would recommend treatments, patients do have choices.
- Patients can discuss with their doctor about the pros and cons of each treatment and how these treatments will affect their lifestyle.
- Joining a breast cancer support group will help the patient understand the treatment option better as people in the forum have more experience on the treatments. Patients can also get some advice and tips for managing the situations.
- Patients can also opt to join clinical trials where latest treatments are tested on them before they are available to the general public.
Use of Steroids in Breast Cancer Treatment
Steroids are substances that are produced in the body by the adrenal gland. These substances control the different functions of the body. For the treatment of Cancer, Steroids are produced synthetically in the form of drugs. There are different types of steroids manufactured and they all have different effects on the body. But Steroids that are commonly used for the treatment of cancer are hydrocortisone, dexamethasone, methylprednisolone and prednisolone.
Steroids are used for short periods of time so that they don’t show side effects.
- They are used as part of the treatment to help in destroying cancer cells and make the treatment/chemotherapy more effective
- They help in reducing the side effects or allergic reactions on the body caused by anti-cancer drugs.
- To increase the appetite, it is given as an anti-sickness drug in lower doses.
Steroids can be administered in many forms.
- They come in clear fluid form for injection. Injection is either given intramuscularly or through a tube inserted into the vein (intravenously).
- They are available as tablets.
- For people who find it difficult to swallow, they come in syrup form.
Steroids need to be administered at specific times each day and are not prescribed for thelong term. They are given as short-term courses. It is also not advisable to stop using steroids suddenly without the advice of adoctor.
Side Effects of Steroids
Each person reacts to drugs in a different fashion and thus, the side effects also differ from person to person. The dosage also matters when it comes to side effects. Here are the common side-effects that are noticed in patients.
Stomach Pain and Indigestion: As Steroids tend to irritate the stomach lining, it is better to take the tablets with food. If the pain persists, it is better to let the doctor know about it.
Rise in Blood Sugar Levels: Steroids can cause raise in blood sugar levels. The doctor usually would check for it in a regular manner while the patient is on steroid treatment. If there is any symptom like feeling thirsty or frequent urination, the doctor should be informed about it.
Fluid Build-up:The patient’s ankles and legs will swell due to fluid build-up in the body. This is due to the steroid treatment and it will get better as soon as the treatment ends.
Increased Appetite:Steroids will make the patients feel hungrier than usual. This is a usual symptom and will stop as soon as the treatment ends.
Infection Signs and Delayed Healing:If steroids are taken for a long time or given in high doses, then it might cause infection and any cuts if any, will take alonger time to heal. Hence, it is better to be more careful at that time.
Irregular Period Cycles:Period Cycles will undergo changes and periods might stop sometimes.
Mood Swings:Steroids greatly affect mood. One might feel restless, irritated and have problems in sleeping.
Steroids are generally used in specific situations and are frequently administered only in patients who are in their advanced stages of cancer. They help to prevent nausea, vomiting and other hypersensitivity reactions caused by chemotherapy or radiation. They are also used as appetite stimulants and to alleviate pain. Evidence supports that using steroids wisely have proved to be beneficial in patients with advanced cancer.