A 28-year-old teacher from Lucknow suffering from breast cancer was successfully saved at Max Super Specialty Hospital, Saket. Since the metastasis of her cancer had spread to the nodes in the armpits and some part of the liver, a multidisciplinary team of specialists were involved to preserve her fertility and save her life.
October being a month for awareness about breast cancer, Max institute of Cancer Care, Saket pledges to spread the message in the community through this case, that with advancements in oncology, cancer is treatable with timely intervention.
Initially when the patient noticed a large breast lump, managed it as an abscess at a local centre in Lucknow. But despite medical management for over a month, in view of the increasing size of the lump she decided to seek a second opinion at Max Hospital Saket.
Detailed evaluations revealed that she had HER2 (protein responsible for growth of cancer cells) Positive Breast Cancer that had spread to her nodes in her armpit and at a single site in the liver which required immediate medical attention.
“After due counselling, she was started on chemotherapy and dual anti Her2 targeted therapy as per the latest treatment guidelines under the supervision of our medical oncology team. Onco-fertility experts were also involved and appropriate steps taken to preserve her fertility even after cancer treatment. After completion of systemic therapy for 6 months, she had a complete metabolic response on her PET-CT and then she was planned for breast conservation surgery along with oncoplastic and liver metastasectomy which was done at the same sitting.” Said Dr Harit Chaturvedi, Max Institute of Cancer Care, Max Hospital, Saket.
Despite the cancer cells spreading to other parts, she recovered well from the surgery and was administered with Image-guided Radiation therapy for precise and accurate removal of the metastases and minimize the side effects. She continued to receive Anti Her2 directed therapy and at a follow up of 2 years, she is free from cancer and doing well. After fighting for 2 years against cancer she has rejoined as teacher and is getting married soon.
It is important to remember that early detection of breast cancer is simple and quite doable if one is aware of basic breast health awareness, monthly self-examination and screening mammograms above the age of 40. Most commonly, breast cancer presents as a painless lump or any change in the look or feel of the nipple or the breast. It is also important to remember that breast cancer can affect women of any age, be it 20 years or 90 years and even those, who have no family history of cancer.
“Breast cancer treatment has evolved dramatically over the last few decades. It entails a coordinated multidisciplinary team effort of not only breast and oncoplastic surgeons but medical and radiation oncologists, oncofertility experts, radiologists, pathologists, molecular oncologists, psychologists, nursing staff, physiotherapists etc. The decision about the kind of treatment, the sequence of treatment, whether we can avoid chemotherapy for a particular patient, whether to use certain targeted therapy etc. are all tricky ones and need a balanced team of experienced oncologists. Today, most of our patients can undergo treatment with mild morbidity because of availability of better surgical techniques such as sentinel lymph node biopsy, better drugs and radiation techniques.” Added Dr Chaturvedi
Another extremely vital message for the society is that the risk of breast cancer can be lowered by adopting a healthy lifestyle, balanced diet, regular exercise, keeping weight in check and avoiding alcohol.