Breast care and breast cancer self-diagnosis are heavily emphasized in many newspapers, magazines, and online articles. However, these articles do not shed light on lesser-known breast ailments. One of them is phyllodes tumor.
It is a rare, mostly noncancerous tumor that affects the connective tissue of the breast. Connective tissue is known as stroma. In this blog, we discuss phyllodes tumors, their causes, symptoms, and different treatments.
What is a phyllodes tumor?
The breast is mainly composed of adipose tissue, which makes up the bulk of the breast, and glandular tissue, which is responsible for the production of milk. However, other connective tissues are also present. They are fibrous tissues that are responsible for supporting other tissues and holding them in place. These connective tissues are known as the stroma.
When the tumor grows out of the parenchyma, it is called a phyllodes tumor. A rare breast tumor. Most are benign, but they can also become cancerous. In some cases, these tumors are between benign and cancerous, so doctors consider such types of tumors borderline. These tumors can grow rapidly. However, once it spreads, it becomes difficult to treat.
Foliate means leaf-like. As the tumor grows, it looks like a leaf when viewed under a microscope. It is less likely to spread beyond the breast. Also called phyllodes cyssarcoma.
What causes phyllodes tumors?
The cause of phyllodes tumors is unknown and experts are conducting similar investigations. Some experts believe that a protein called endothelin-1 contributes to increased fibroblast growth and that hormonal imbalances are involved along with the following risk factors:
- excess estrogen
What are the symptoms of phyllodes tumors?
Like most breast tumors, phyllodes tumors are palpable. A doctor may also notice a lump during a routine check-up. Tumors do not feel pain. The lump is hard, smooth, and well-defined, and usually grows to 3 centimeters or more in a few weeks or months. In some cases, the skin may stretch and ulcerate in the breast. We also see that tumors generally occur more often in the left breast than in the right breast.
If you have a cancerous tumor, you may have the following symptoms:
- breathing problems
- Bone pain – indicates cancer has spread to the bones and lungs.
When should I seek medical help?
If you have symptoms of a phyllodes tumor, call your doctor right away or go to the nearest hospital.
Who is at risk of developing phyllodes tumors?
Phyllodes tumors can develop at any age. However, the risk of developing cancer is increased if:
- Female in her 40s
- have a genetic disorder known as Li-Fraumeni syndrome
What are the different diagnostic methods for phyllodes tumors?
The first sign of a phyllodes tumor is a lump.The same is true for other types breast cancer. This makes it difficult for doctors to accurately diagnose phyllodes tumors. Below are some of the different types of diagnostic tests.
- Mammogram: If a doctor suspects a phyllodes tumor, a mammogram may be needed. These examinations provide a detailed picture of the well-defined lump. Doctors may also notice small pieces of calcium in the lump.
- ultrasound: Like a mammogram, an ultrasound will show pictures of lumps. This test uses sound waves to display images.
- needle biopsy: In this case, doctors insert a needle to take a small sample of tissue from the lump. It is then sent for analysis to confirm the diagnosis.
- Removal of lumps: Most patients undergo this procedure to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Doctors surgically remove the entire lump and examine the tissue to see if it is benign, borderline, or malignant.
What are the different treatments for phyllodes tumors?
All phyllodes tumors, benign or not, can grow and cause pain and other problems. Therefore, doctors may recommend surgery to remove it. Doctors may also remove healthy tissue around the tumor to keep it from spreading further. Based on your size and preferences, you can choose one of the following procedures.
- Tumor resection : Your doctor will remove the entire tumor, including at least 1 centimeter of healthy tissue.
- Partial mastectomy : If you have a large tumor, your doctor may decide to remove the part of the breast that contains the cancer. Known as a partial mastectomy.
- Mastectomy : As the name suggests, doctors remove the entire breast. During the same surgery you can choose to: breast reconstruction You can choose surgery, or you can choose the same after a mastectomy.
If you have a malignant tumor, your doctor may prescribe the following treatment options after surgery.
- radiotherapy: Doctors use high-energy waves to kill any cancer cells left after surgery.
- chemical treatment: In this case, doctors use different drugs to kill cancer cells. If the tumor has spread to other parts of the body, doctors may choose chemotherapy.
Phyllodes tumors are not usually cancerous, but they are more likely to recur within two years after surgery. Therefore, early detection of phyllodes tumors requires frequent and regular physical examinations.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
If a phyllodes tumor is benign, do I need surgery?
Yes, benign or not, these tumors can grow and cause extreme pain. Therefore, doctors recommend surgical removal.
If I am diagnosed with a malignant tumor, will it be cured?
Malignant tumors that reside within the breast and have not spread to other parts of the body are easier to treat, prevent, and cure. However, if it spreads to other parts, it can become difficult.
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