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When is a breast lump cancer?

Lumps in women's breasts can be benign or malignant. Commonly breasts respond to hormonal fluctuations in the body which can cause them to become painful and lumpy, known as fibrocystic disease. It normally resolves with menopause. Other lumps can be due to fibroadenomas, which are benign, solid lumps that can be moved. Cancers in the breast are often hard and fixed in the breast tissue of older women. Breast lumps are assessed by taking a full medically oriented history and examination, a mammogram (special breast x-ray), and ultrasound. Mammograms are more sensitive in older women (>45 years old) and ultrasounds are able to distinguish between solid and fluid filled lesions. Ultrasounds also allow the operator to take biopsies of the lump or aspirate the fluid of a cyst, which can be done as a day procedure. Biopsies or removal of the lump can also be done as a general surgical procedure for suspicious lesions. Treatment for breast cancer is to excise the abnormal tissue with margins of normal tissue in surgery, or to remove the whole breast (mastectomy) and surrounding lymph glands. Follow-up chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and/or radiotherapy is then recommended by an oncologist (cancer specialist). Chemotherapy causes side effects such as nausea and vomiting, loss of hair, fatigue, low blood count and immunosuppression. Hormonal therapy and radiotherapy are better tolerated, causing few side effects.

Source: summary of medical news story as reported by di-ve

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About: When is a breast lump cancer?

Date: 3 July 2005

Source: di-ve

Author: Gordon Caruana-Dingli


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