On October 25, 2023, Mohali witnessed a poignant reminder of the impact of breast cancer, a disease that plagues women across the globe and claims countless lives. The annual observance of World Breast Cancer Awareness Month throughout October serves as a beacon of hope, emphasizing the importance of early detection for improved treatment outcomes. This year’s theme, #DIY (Detect it yourself), underscores the critical role individuals play in their own health.
Fortis Hospital Mohali’s Department of Breast-Onco Surgery stands as a testament to progress in the field. They have successfully transformed the lives of numerous breast cancer patients, employing cutting-edge surgical techniques that focus on breast conservation with reconstruction and Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy.
Dr. Naval Bansal, an esteemed Endocrine & Breast Cancer Surgeon at Fortis Hospital, Mohali, has taken the initiative to shed light on the intricacies of breast cancer. His advisory serves as a valuable resource, offering insights into symptoms, warning signs, and an array of treatment options available to those affected by this challenging disease.
Signs & Symptom
Discussing the early signs of breast cancer, Dr Bansal, said, “Women should be careful to identify some symptoms such as a new lump in the breast or underarm (armpit), thickening or swelling of the breast, dimpling of breast skin, changes in colour of areola or flaky skin on the breast, pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area. These signs do warrant a medical examination.”
Who does it affect?
Stating that breast cancer occurs when some breast cells begin to grow abnormally, Dr Bansal, added, “Women of all age groups should be careful about the symptoms of breast cancer as it can affect anybody. Early diagnosis is the key.”
Dr Bansal further stated that he had recently treated a 21-year-old breast cancer patient at Fortis Mohali. “The Patient had a lump in her breast, which was mistaken for normal lumps for her age, and was removed at a local hospital without proper evaluation. However, to her surprise, cancer was detected in the biopsy conducted at a diagnostic centre in Jalandhar, Punjab. Following this, the patient approached me at Fortis Mohali and after a thorough analysis, the Tumour Board decided on the line of treatment as the Patient had already undergone a surgery before, but the cancer had relapsed.”
Dr Bansal treated the patient through revision surgery. “Our focus was not just on removing the tumour, but also saving the breast and axillary nodes. The patient had cancer in Stage 2 and underwent breast conservation with reconstruction and sentinel lymph node biopsy.”
Treatment – Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
Sentinel lymph node biopsy is considered the gold standard for early breast cancer as it involves detecting the gate keeper nodes for axillary staging. Discussing the procedure, Dr Bansal, added, “The process involves injecting a blue dye and radioactive dye around the nipple areola complex. We look for sentinel nodes that have been stained blue and have radioactivity using a specialised device called Gamma Probe. It is then sent for testing known as frozen section biopsy. This helps avoid unnecessary removal of axillary lymph nodes.”