Cancer is a dreadful word for any patient to hear from their doctor. It can feel like a life-changing hammer blow. Cancer takes many forms and can afflict almost any part of the human form. Throughout the world, the most common of all cancers are found in the breast.
Results of the last worldwide survey on breast cancer showed that there were around 2.3 million people suffering from breast cancer, resulting in 685,000 fatalities. In the US alone, 255,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. It should be noted that breast cancer is not exclusively found in women, almost 1% of those diagnosed are men.
The diagnosis of breast cancer is not the result of medical advances in our modern world. The earliest known evidence of mankind being aware of this dreadful affliction can be traced back to around 3000 BC. Around 400 BC Hippocrates accurately described the various stages of breast cancer. By the first century AD, doctors were experimenting with surgical procedures to counter breast tumors.
The Samitivej Breast Center
Although breast cancer, and other associated breast health issues, are not exclusive to the female species of the human race, Samitivej Hospital recognizes it is women that vastly predominate in the suffering of this common form of cancer. With that in mind, they have developed a state-of-the-art facility devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of breast health issues as part of their dedication to women’s health.
Breast Health Diagnosis
Following a physical examination, the next stage of any diagnosis will be undertaken with the use of a mammogram. Very often a mammogram can detect breast cancer early when an abnormal growth is very small, even when it cannot be felt with a physical examination. Mammogram screening is advisable for all women to undertake, even when there is no breast health history or symptoms.
Following a mammogram, a biopsy may be undertaken. It is only by carrying out a biopsy that breast cancer can be definitively diagnosed. The biopsy is conducted by a specialized physician using a fine needle and is guided by technically advanced digital imaging. Tissue is extracted from the suspected cancerous area which can then be analyzed by Samitivej’s advanced laboratory which provides the definitive diagnosis.
Breast Health Treatments
If a tumor is found, as a rule, surgery will be the initial form of treatment. The exact nature of the surgery that is conducted will depend on the type and size of the tumor. The least severe option is a lumpectomy or partial mastectomy. This is where the surgeon removes the offending tumor and a small amount of, otherwise healthy tissue, that surrounds it.
A larger and more developed tumor may require a full mastectomy. This is when the surgeon removes the whole breast. This surgery takes around 90 minutes, and although invasive, most patients are able to return home the day following surgery. The full recovery time from mastectomy surgery is 4-6 weeks.
The most severe form of surgery that may be required is a radical mastectomy. During this procedure, the surgeon, in addition to removing the whole of the breast, the lymph nodes, which are under the arms, and the muscles around the chest wall are also removed. This procedure takes between 2 and 3 hours and the patient may be required to stay in the hospital for a couple of days, with a full recovery time of 4-6 weeks.
Post-operative treatment will begin between 1 and 3 months following surgery. Chemotherapy is standard treatment following surgery. This treatment is the use of specialized drugs which have been developed to kill off cancerous cells. These drugs may be administered weekly, fortnightly or every 3 weeks, for 3 to 6 months.
Radiotherapy is another treatment option. This is where high energy beams, protons, or X-rays, are used to kill the offending cells. Radiotherapy will normally be administered on an outpatient basis, once a day for 5 days a week and, typically, over a period of 5 to 6 weeks.
Radiotherapy does have side effects. Hair loss is the most recognizable effect of radiotherapy. However, there are many effects on the patient following radiotherapy. These may include, severe tiredness, sore skin, diarrhea, nausea, difficulties with eating and drinking, and muscle and joint stiffness.
These side effects are likely to peak up to 2 weeks after the completion of the radiotherapy treatment. The longevity of sufferance will vary from patient to patient, but it can take several months before the patient starts to feel normal again.
At the Samitivej Hospital Breast Center, there is an acute awareness of the psychological impact on a woman who has had one or both breasts removed. The professional staff is well trained in helping every woman in dealing with the psychological impact of the aesthetic change to their body.
Reconstructive surgery can have an enormous impact in helping to restore a woman’s self-confidence following breast removal. At Samitivej Hospital’s Breast Center, reconstructive surgery is conducted as an integral part of breast health treatment.
The reconstructive surgery rebuilds the breast to give it a natural look and shape. This is done by using either autologous tissue or prosthetic implants, in some cases, it may be prudent to utilize a combination of both. With no two cases being the same, reconstructive surgery can take anything from 1 to 6 hours, with a full recovery time of up to 6 weeks.
Samitivej Hospital Breast Center Assurance
Every patient attending Samitivej Hospital’s Breast Center can be assured that they are being attended to by a highly trained, world-class team of professionals. Their modern facility is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment in hi-tech treatment and surgical suites. The center adheres to the strictest of hygiene protocols with its unique “Real Clean Means” system of cleaning and sterilization of the entire facility and all equipment.
With over 3 million medical tourists visiting Thailand every year, no other facility can offer diagnosis, treatment, and patient safety more comprehensively. With multilingual staff, translators at hand, and visa and accommodation assistance, patients from across the world feel secure and welcomed to the full.