October is a special month when pink ribbons adorn lapels, buildings light up in pink, and people around the world come together to raise awareness for breast cancer. Breast Cancer Awareness Month, often referred to as Pink October, is an annual campaign dedicated to increasing awareness about the disease, promoting early detection, and celebrating the remarkable progress made in breast cancer treatment and screening. In this blog, we explore the positive developments in the fight against breast cancer, offering hope to millions of individuals and their families.
One of the most crucial aspects of breast cancer awareness is stressing the importance of early detection. Digital Mammograms, which are low-dose X-rays of the breast, remain the gold standard for detecting breast cancer in its early stages. Combined with breast ultrasound, using sound waves to create images offers improved accuracy, making screening even more effective for early detection.
Breast cancer is not a one-size-fits-all disease. Genetic testing can identify specific gene mutations, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Knowing one's genetic predisposition can lead to more targeted prevention and treatment strategies.
At the Bumrungrad Breast Center, our expert multidisciplinary team collaborates to provide personalized breast cancer treatment. Specialists from various fields, including oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, and more, work together to maximize treatment effectiveness and minimize side effects. Our goal is to ensure the best possible outcome for each patient, tailoring care to their unique needs.
Breast cancer treatment has seen significant advancements. For early-stage breast cancer, breast conservation surgery, such as a lumpectomy, aims to remove cancerous tissue while preserving the breast's appearance. In addition, sentinel lymph node biopsy, a procedure performed during surgery, assesses lymph node involvement, guiding further treatment decisions.
Radiation therapy is another crucial element of treatment, involving precisely targeted radiation to eliminate remaining cancer cells in the breast or nearby lymph nodes after surgery.
Chemotherapy, a well-established treatment, uses potent drugs to target rapidly dividing cancer cells. It can be administered before or after surgery but may lead to side effects due to its impact on healthy cells.
Targeted therapy, a more recent development, selectively targets specific changes in cancer cells, minimizing harm to healthy tissues.
Immunotherapy harnesses the body's immune system to combat cancer, enhancing the recognition and attack of cancer cells.
These diverse treatment options provide a tailored approach to breast cancer care, offering hope for improved outcomes.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month has played a crucial role in fostering support networks and advocacy efforts. Through campaigns, Pink October encourages open conversations about breast cancer and empowers individuals to take charge of their health. We encourage all women to perform self-breast examinations. Women considered high risk (those with a family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or women who had breast augmentation) should have a breast cancer screening by ultrasound from the age of 30, and mammogram and ultrasound screening from the age of 40.
As we commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, let us celebrate the positive developments in breast cancer treatment and screening. The progress made in early detection, personalized medicine, less invasive surgeries, and the unwavering support of advocacy groups offer hope and promise to those affected by breast cancer. Together, we can continue to raise awareness, support research, and make strides towards a future where breast cancer is no longer seen as a life-threatening disease.
Contributed by Sudarat Chaipiancharoenkit, Breast Surgery Specialist
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