It is estimated that 1 in 28 women are prone to developing breast cancer during her lifetime. While there isn’t a sure shot cure for breast cancer, there are several treatments, as well as alternative breast cancer treatments that one can look at, depending on the severity of cancer. However, all these cures for breast cancer and alternative breast cancer treatments come at very high costs, leaving the sufferer and the family financially drained. Therefore it is important that we properly understand the disease and the best options available for breast cancer treatment, keeping in mind the health side effects, as well as the financial implications of the cure for breast cancer you and your oncologist decide on.
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More commonly known as ‘chemo’, it is the use of drugs to treat or kill cancer cells that have already spread in a person’s body. While radiation and surgery can affect cancerous cells only in a certain part, chemo medication has its effects on the entire body, preventing the breast cancer from travelling. It is often used as palliative treatment, when cancer is in its advanced stages, with the goal to reduce pain or improve the patient’s quality of life.
Targeted therapy is a relatively new technique that uses drugs to attack only cancer affected cells in the breast area. It is similar to radiation but has different side-effects because it is more specific to its target.
2 out of 3 breast cancers are hormone receptor-positive, meaning their cells have receptors that attach to the hormones estrogen (ER-positive cancers) and/or progesterone (PR-positive cancers). There are several different types of hormone therapy, which use different ways to keep estrogen from helping cancer grow. Most types of hormone therapy for breast cancer either lowers estrogen levels or stops estrogen from acting on breast cancer cells.
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Radiation is that one word which is most commonly associated to cancer treatment. It uses high-energy x-rays, gamma rays, beams, or protons to damage or destroy cancer cells, and prevent them from multiplying or spreading to other parts of the body. Radiation comes with some side effects, because the rays may also affect other cells in our body. Side effects include fatigue, nausea, hair loss, skin problems, appetite loss etc.
There are two types of surgeries that can be done –
1) Breast-conserving surgery wherein only the part of the breast containing cancer is removed. 2)
2) Mastectomy is where the entire breast is removed, including the nearby tissue.
After undergoing a mastectomy, some women are inclined to a breast reconstructive surgery to rebuild and restore the appearance of the breast after the cancer is removed.
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Attempting any of these breast cancer cures depends on several other factors such as the type and stage of breast cancer, whether it is a post pregnancy cancer and many others. It is important to go over all these factors with your oncologist before taking a decision on the treatment that is best suited for you. All these cures for breast cancer and alternative breast cancer treatments have a draining effect on the financial position of the sufferer.
Regardless of mediclaims, insurances, or medical loans, the majority of the Indian population affected by the breast cancer is not in a position to afford even basic treatment. In these situations, people need to look at alternative ways to raise funds for breast cancer, such as crowdfunding, to help them pay for treatment. By starting a crowdfunding campaign, a patient can mobilize people who are compassionate to help and request them to donate towards a treatment fund.