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...SURGERY FOR BREAST CANCER IS NOT ABOUT REMOVING BREASTS, ALWAYS…(contd.) The treatment of breast cancer has undergone major improvements and this has been reflected in how the outcomes have changed dramatically for the better. While curing the disease is a priority, maintaining quality of life is as important. The journey that has been covered before us is no less fascinating and the constant endeavor to make it better for the patient has driven the change. Mutilating surgeries in the form of amputation of the breast and then radical mastectomy (removal of the breast, muscles of the chest and the lymph nodes in the armpit ) or the extended radical mastectomy( same as radical mastectomy but with the additional removal of lymph nodes inside the chest) remained in vogue for a larger part of the 20th century. ...to be continued.....More history in the next update
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I am a big fan of Angelina Jolie. So what is the big deal about it? Half of the human race is possibly her fan..her looks and her acting prowess has had the world swooning. I am her fan for a different reason. I haven’t followed her movies, her drop dead gorgeous looks or her personal life but I admire her for her courage. Some years ago, this remarkable lady announced to the world that she is having both her breasts removed. She knew that she was carrying a genetic mutation which made her susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer. Her family history was strong for both breast and ovarian cancer and once she tested positive for the mutation, she knew she carried a 60-80% risk of developing either of these cancers. She was faced with the prospect of prophylactic breast and ovarian surgeries. I can only imagine the sleepless nights, the battle within-to do or not to do, several rounds of long discussions with her doctors, family and friends, the impact on her career which relied heavily on glamour, her children... and so much more. And then she made that decision to have both her breasts removed and subsequently her ovaries. She shocked the world but at the same time catapulted herself to that realm of courage and fortitude that rarely people of her standing dare to tread. I joined her fan club and her story of courage became the benchmark for women caught in a similar situation. Why I recalled this story was when I encountered my own Angelina Jolie. This young lady of 35 had a very strong family history of breast, ovarian and colon cancer on her maternal side.Her husband was gutted when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I advised her for a genetic consult while planning for her surgery. The genetic consultant had barely advised her gene testing and was discussing the possible implications, when she said that she had made up her mind. She very calmly told the consultant that irrespective of what the test says she was going ahead with bilateral prophylactic mastectomies and bilateral ovarian surgeries in the same sitting. She came to be and conveyed the same to me. It shook me inwardly and took me a while to gain my composure as her husband stood by her, rock solid in his support of her decision. ‘COURAGE’ as a word probably does not do justice to the tenacity with which one arrives at this supremely difficult decision. I have done these surgeries before and this one was certainly not the last. Such decisions are rationalised within the multidisciplinary board, the molecular oncologists, the psychologists, the family and most importantly, the patients!! While I see more of these Angeina Jolie clones, I will always hope and pray that these amazing ladies’ decision translates into long, meaningful and inspiring lives!
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Breast cancer can catch anyone by surprise. Why I say that is because the usual history is a lump felt in the breast over a few weeks to a month or two or more. Apparently innocent as it caused no pain or upset the rhythm of life. It was just there! I identify with this extremely unpleasant feeling of being caught out or cornered or ganged up against, when this innocuous lump is declared cancer, almost everyday. How could a lump which was just there till yesterday change life indelibly? The grief that accompanies the diagnosis is unfathomable in most. The denial that follows and the unfairness of the situation is quite hard hitting. I, as a Clinician, after so many years of being witness to this familiar response, still find it hard to say something sensible to console, especially if the affected is young. It is almost as if I am on their side, a part of their family, going through this heart- wrenching sequence. When I am at a loss, the best I do, is hold their hands and say everything will be alright. I want it that way and no other way, as every doctor would. And it works! I liken the situation to being in quicksand. If you struggle too much with the situation, you get pulled in, the brain gets clouded and wrong decisions are made. If you reach out to a helping hand, gently ease yourself out with coaxing and cajoling coming from your loved ones, you make it! How one handles the situation has a large part to play in what the final outcome would be. We do not choose situations in life and some situations do catch you unawares. What you can choose, is your response to the situation- accepting it, making light of it, taking it in your stride and going through treatment with the desire to heal and bounce back, is usually what winners do!!

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Max Cancer Centre. Max Super Speciality Hospital108A. I. P. Extn Patparganj, New, -110092
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28.61316 77.288369 Dr. Geeta Kadayaprath - Breast Surgical Oncologist Max Cancer Centre. Max Super Speciality Hospital108A. I. P. Extn Patparganj, New, -110092
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