Breast Tumour/ Breast Cancer

​Breast cancer is the uncontrollable growth of breast cells that leads to the formation of a tumour. A tumour describes a mass of abnormal tissue that forms in your body. Breast tumours refer to abnormal lumps that may form in either or both of the breasts.

There are two types of breast tumours:

  • Benign tumours – these are tumours that are non-cancerous. Doctors usually leave these alone and do not remove it unless they continue to grow, start to put pressure on organs and cause pain and other negative symptoms.

  • Malignant tumours – these tumours are cancerous and described as aggressive because they attack and damage tissues. These tumours are most often treated surgically, after your doctor has assessed the severity and stage of the cancer. 

These are some of the early signs and symptoms of a breast tumour, which might or might not be cancerous:

  • Painless lump

  • Minor abnormal pain that persists (pain is not a sign of early cancer)

  • Altered shape of the nipple

  • Breast pain that persists after your next menstrual cycle

  • A new lump that develops and does not go away after your next menstrual cycle 

  • There is discharge from your nipples that is clear, brown, red or yellow

  • There is unexplained redness, irritation, itchiness, swelling or a rash on your breast or nipple

  • There is a lump or swelling under your arm or the surrounding area of your collarbone 

If the lump is found to be hard and has an irregular shape, it is more likely to be cancerous. 

Some signs and symptoms of breast cancer at a later stage include:

  • Nipple turning inwards or retracting 

  • One breast becomes enlarged or small as compared to other

  • The breast surface becomes dimpled

  • An existing lump becomes bigger 

  • An “orange peel” texture to the skin

  • Weight loss that is unexplained 

  • Armpit exhibits enlarged lymph nodes

  • Breast has visible veins​​

If you notice one or more of these symptoms, it is not necessarily indicative of breast cancer. For instance, nipple discharge could be due to an infection and not due to breast cancer.

You should however, consult a doctor working with the GI and Surgery Service Line​ at the Aga Khan University Hospital for a complete evaluation if you experience any of these signs or symptoms. To seek medical advice from a specialist, you can request an appointment at the Breast Clinic.

You can also consult a specialist working with the Oncology Service Line for expert analysis,

It is also recommended for all women to receive a full breast examination at least every three years if you are in your twenties or thirties, and every year if you are forty and above. ​

Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here​ are some tips to help get you started.
​Early diagnosis and treatment is extremely valued in the treatment of breast cancer. These are some of the common diagnostic methods:

  • Self-exam – it is strongly recommended that every woman should perform a self-exam of their breast at least once a month.  

  • Clinical breast exam – a basic part of a woman’s general check-up which should be begin by the age of twenty. This will include a review of your medical history and physical exam.

  • Mammogram – this is a special kind of x-ray which can help to detect any abnormal growth or changes in your breast tissue.

  • Ultrasound – you may need a breast ultrasound so that the doctor can tell whether not the breast lump is a cyst or a solid mass.  

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – a breast MRI can help to identify breast cancer but should be done only on the recommendation of a breast specialist.

  • Breast Biopsy – occasionally your doctor will perform a breast biopsy, which is when they will remove some tissue from your breast and inspect it to see if there is cancer. 

If cancer is detected, there may be further tests in order to diagnose the stage of your cancer.​

Treatment options for breast cancer include:

  • Surgery 

  • Chemotherapy 

  • Radiation therapy 

  • Hormonal Therapy 

  • Targeted therapy 

  • Complementary and Holistic Medicine 

Surgery tends to be the first strategy of attack again breast cancer depending upon stage. There are a number of different surgical options.

  • Lumpectomy – this is the removal of only the tumour as well as a small portion of the surrounding tissue. This is sometimes known as a breast-conserving surgery.

  • Mastectomy – this describes the removal or all the breast tissue. This type of surgery is the option for more advanced stages of cancer where the cancer is too extensive to remove without distorting the breast.

Other surgical options include:

  • Lymph node removal – this is also known as axillary lymph node dissection. It refers to a surgery that may take place during either a lumpectomy or mastectomy surgery if the cancer has spread outside the milk duct breast to the armpit glands. 

  • Breast reconstruction – this is when the breast is re-build following a mastectomy and occasionally after a lumpectomy. 

  • Prophylactic mastectomy – this surgery is performed as a preventative measure, and is a removal of the breast to lessen the risk of breast cancer in those people that who are at high risk of developing cancer. 

  • Prophylactic ovary removal – this is another preventative surgery which reduces the risk of cancer my limiting the amount oestrogen in the body, making it more difficult for oestrogen to stimulate the growth of breast cancer. ​

Please click here for some guidelines on what to do before your surgery​.
Please click here​ for some guidelines on what to do on the day of your surgery.
Breast cancer surgery is generally considered safe and is associated with the common risks of surgery including the possibility of an infection, build up of blood under your skin or an adverse reaction to anaesthesia.
Please click here​ for some guidelines on what to do on after your surgery.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have ​​experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.