Breast cancer is a prominent type of disease affecting millions of women across the globe and even some men. While a majority of breast cancer cases fall under the well-known subtypes such as ductal carcinoma and lobular carcinoma, there are a few lesser-known forms that categorize as rare breast cancers and require equal attention. In this article, we will explore these rare breast cancer forms, prevention, diagnosis, treatments that can help in understanding this disease better.
Rare Breast Cancer: There are various subtypes of rare breast cancer, and each one differs from the more common ones in certain ways. Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), HER2-positive breast cancer, Triple-negative breast cancer, and Phyllodes cancer are a few forms of rare breast cancer subtypes. These forms usually exhibit different medical factors and molecular profiles which will require specific approaches to treatment. Considering India’s limited resource-controlled medical landscape, it is very challenging to detect and diagnose these subtypes.
Diagnosis and Treatment: Due to the infrequent occurrence and lack of awareness among medical professionals, diagnosing rare breast cancer forms can be difficult. The symptoms are common as of an infection which can lead to misdiagnosis or slowed diagnosis and it can affect the patients’ overall well-being. Moreover, the treatment options available for breast cancer might not be effective for rare breast cancer cases. Hence, it is crucial to be aware of the symptoms such as orange-peel texture of skin, firm lumps in the breast, rapid breast growth, changes in the breast shape or size. If a patient experiences any of these symptoms, they must consult the doctor immediately for early detection and treatment of this cancer.
Rare breast cancers do not have wider treatment options but, Targeted therapies are essential as each subtype of rare breast cancer has its own genetic form and growth characteristics. For instance, medicines that specifically target the overexpression of the HER2 protein are needed for HER2-positive breast cancer. Similar to this, other therapy modalities are required for triple-negative breast cancer, which is known for lacking hormone receptors. Therefore, Precision medicine and personalized treatment strategies are essential in treating rare breast cancers.
Advancements in treating RBC: Cancer therapy paradigms are being completely rewritten thanks to the advancements in genomics and personalized medicine. Researchers are paving way for more effective medications with fewer side effects by customizing therapeutics based on the biological characteristics of each subtype. However, clinical trials are crucial in the effort to solve the challenges of rare breast cancers. These studies not only assess the effectiveness of novel medications but also give patients access to advanced treatments that might not otherwise be available.
Rare breast cancers may be less prevalent, but considering its symptoms and lack of treatment options, it is essential to be informed and aware of this disease. RBC’s subtypes pose challenges that requires increased awareness, specialized care, and collaborative efforts within the medical industry. The advancement in understanding, identifying, and treating these less well-studied forms of breast cancer is driven by advocacy groups, patients, and researchers alike. It is essential to know that each patient’s condition is different and by focusing on the rare subtypes, doctors will be able to diagnose and treat the patient effectively.
Prevention: Though rare breast cancers are uncommon; it is recommended to schedule regular screenings such as mammograms and other clinical tests that will help in the early detection of the disease. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet along with regular physical activities will play a significant role in preventing the development of this disease. Breastfeeding might lower the risk of certain breast cancers, but if the patient has a family history of anyone suffering from this type of tumour, then they should be conscious and aware to avoid any serious conditions. Therefore, by adopting these measures, individuals can reduce the chances of developing rare breast cancer.
Dr. Raj Nagarkar, MD & Chief Surgical Oncologist at HCG Manavata Cancer Centre Nasik.