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What Are the Risks and Side Effects Associated With Breast Cancer Treatments?

May 03, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 128

The following are the different types of breast cancer treatments:

1. Surgically removing the cancerous tissue by procedures like lumpectomy, quadrantectomy and mastectomy (complete or partial).

2. Internal (brachytherapy) or external radiation therapy.

3. Chemotherapy, a treatment which can be used in all stages of breast cancer uses drugs like Adriamycin, methotrexate, taxol and 5fluorouracil to kill the cancer cells.

4. Targeted (Biologic) therapies attack specific abnormalities within cancer cells.

5. Hormonal Therapy may be used after surgery to decrease the chance of the cancer returning or may be used along with other treatments. It works by curbing the oestrogen production causing the death of cancer cells.

What are the risks or side-effects of the afore-mentioned breast cancer treatments?

Side effects of surgery

Surgical treatment of breast cancer causes stinging pain at the sight of incision and also aches in the shoulder, back and neck. If the person has gone through a mastectomy (complete removal of breast), it may lead to imbalance due to weight shift and inconsistency. If there has been any injury to the nerves during the surgery, it results in deadness and tingling sensation in the chest, arms and underarms. It may also cause chronic swelling of the arm, also known as lymphedema caused due to collection of the lymphatic fluid.

Side effects of radiation

Radiation therapy, internal or external, causes very few and temporary side-effects. Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy) may lead to fatigue and nausea, while external therapy may cause the treated skin area to become inflamed, dry and itchy. There may also be changes in skin colour. Radiotherapy might also result in changes in breast tissue.

Side effects of chemotherapy

Chemotherapy attacks all quickly dividing cells in the body because of which cells like the hair follicles and gastrointestinal tract is also affected leading to hair loss of the scalp, body and pubic area. Chemotherapy commonly causes fatigue, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. Mouth ulcers and sores, leading to loss of taste and smell are also common. Women undergoing chemotherapy are unable to conceive during the period of the treatment, they may also experience pre-menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, interfering with their menstrual cycle.

Side effects of hormone therapy

It is the oestrogen hormone that advances the growth of cancerous cells. For those breast cancers which are categorized as oestrogen receptor-positive, Tamoxifen - an anti-oestrogen producing drug is used to hinder the activity of oestrogen hormone. This drug causes menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal discharge, irregular menstrual periods and dryness and itching of skin around vagina. It causes vomiting, headache and nausea. And it also causes more serious side-effects like blood clots, stroke, risk of uterus cancer and risk of cataracts.

Through his articles, Mark Boucher wishes to inform and educate the readers about breast cancer doctor which will benefit those who are looking for useful information, For treatment log on to breast cancer diagnosis.

Source: EzineArticles
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