Monthly Archives: September 2016

Calcium Deposits in Breasts

Calcification in the bosom is a condition which when recognized turns into a reason for stress for some ladies. Despite the fact that the truth of the matter is that it is not generally a genuine matter. Perused this article to take in more on this.

Mineral calcium tends to get deposited in the breast tissues and is known as breast calcifications. It is quite a common occurrence in women particularly after menopause. It has two different forms – macrocalcification and microcalcification. In macrocalcification, the calcium deposits appear as single dots which are quite large in size. In microcalcification, it looks like minute white specks of various sizes and shapes. It is only in rare cases these deposits get clustered up and turn cancerous at a later stage.

Causes

  • Basically, calcium deposits occur when crystals of calcium phosphate and collagen, a type of insoluble proteins present in tissues clump up together. It can be found not just in breasts but also in other parts of the body like hips, shoulders, and hands.
  • Calcium deposits in breast are a part of the degeneration process that may be triggered by aging, injury or inflammation in the breasts.
  • If there are foreign bodies like breast implants or stitches present in the breasts, deposition of calcium occur on them.
  • Fibroadenomas are harmless noncancerous growths in the mammary glands. It is believed that they are formed due to decrease in the levels of hormones in the menopausal phase.
  • Calcium deposits may occur on these benign growths.
  • Breast cysts are round or oval-shaped fluid filled sacs which are benign in nature. These cysts develop when a woman is in her 30s or 40s and disappear after menopause. If the cysts continue to exist even after that, calcium deposits may form on them.
  • Mammary duct ectasia is a problem associated with milk duct where the nipple gets blocked with milk and leads to breast calcifications. In some cases, it has been found that the duct had got blocked with milk several years ago.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Usually, the deposits occupy a very small area. So, the tiny spots cannot be felt by you or even your doctor during physical examination of the breast. They are detected on breast x-rays or mammograms as small white spots. The shape, size and pattern of these spots are carefully studied by the radiologist for diagnosing the problem. It is further confirmed with the help of biopsy which involves removal of a part of the affected tissue to analyze whether the condition is malignant or not. One form of biopsy is needle core biopsy where a needle is used to collect the samples. The other one is known as surgical biopsy where a wire is inserted into the area to remove breast tissue. Both the tests are done under local anesthesia.

  • Calcifications on fibroadenomas do not require any treatment and the spots disappear on their own.
  • If the breast cyst becomes painful due to calcification, draining out the fluid from it often provides relief to the patient.
  • For mammary duct ectasia, surgical intervention is often required.
  • Hardly, about 15-20 percent of the cases become malignant. Therefore, those of you who have this problem, should not get panicked unnecessarily. Rather, follow the instructions provided by your doctor. In malignant cases, close monitoring of the condition is advisable. In the first one year of detection, follow-up diagnostic mammogram is required after every six months. If no changes are found, then it would be monitored once a year.

There is a misconception among some people that this condition is caused due to the intake of high amount of calcium. However, it is far from the truth and there is no connection between them. It is often being said that post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy may lead to this problem. However, so far, there is no such evidence to support this concept.

Tidbit of Thickened Endometrium

While it is typical for the endometrium to thicken and shed amid menstrual cycle, anomalous thickening of the uterine covering is a therapeutic condition called endometrial hyperplasia. The accompanying article gives data on the causes, manifestations, and treatment of thickened endometrium.

The term ‘endometrial hyperplasia’ refers to a condition that is characterized by thickening of the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus. This abnormal thickening of the uterine lining occurs due to an increased production of the estrogen in the body along with a deficiency of progesterone.

Classification of Endometrial Hyperplasia

Though a majority of cases of endometrial hyperplasia are benign in nature, the risk of endometrial carcinoma can increase if the gland-forming cells of the hyperplastic endometrium undergo certain changes over a period of time. There are two types of endometrial hyperplasia:

  • Hyperplasia without atypical changes
  • Hyperplasia with atypical changes

In case of atypical changes, the cells undergo changes and become abnormal. This puts the affected individual at a risk of developing womb cancer. These two types are further divided into simple and complex hyperplasia with or without atypical changes.

Causes

Estrogen is responsible for building the uterine lining. The maintenance and control of this growth is carried out in presence of progesterone. An overgrowth of uterine lining occurs when there is too much of estrogen and too little of progesterone. Thus, causing thickening of the endometrium. There are various causes of increase in estrogen and decrease in progesterone in the body. These include:
Diabetes

  • Estrogen hormone therapy without administration of progesterone
  • Missed menstruation cycle
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Obesity

Symptoms

The symptoms include changes during menstrual cycle. Other symptoms are as follows:

  • Vaginal discharge
  • Bleeding between menstrual cycle
  • Heavy and prolonged menstrual periods
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Pelvic pain
  • Excessively dry vagina
  • Increase in growth of body hair
  • Hot flushes
  • Mood swings
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Vaginal tenderness

Who are at Risk of Developing Endometrial Hyperplasia?

Women who are at risk of developing thickened endometrium are:

  • Women who have undergone menopause
  • Women who don’t ovulate or have irregular ovulation, that is, late periods
  • Obese or overweight women
  • Diabetics
  • Women with polycystic ovary syndrome

Treatment

Endometrial hyperplasia or thickened endometrium can be treated with medication in many cases. Birth control pills or hormone progesterone is usually given for treatment. Most often hysterectomy is advised to get rid of the affected endometrium. Many times hyperplasia may lead to cancer and therefore the doctor may observe you for some time, if you do not undergo hysterectomy. If a woman is exhibiting symptoms associated with a thickened endometrium, a biopsy may be carried out to rule out cancer.

Endometrial Hyperplasia and Pregnancy

Women who are diagnosed with endometriosis worry about getting pregnant. Women who are trying to conceive need to speak to their doctor regarding the treatment options for thickened endometrium. These include dilation and curettage, use of birth control pills that help in shedding the uterine wall, use of Provera and hysteroscopy. It may take time to conceive, thus, one should not stop trying.

There is significant risk involved with endometrial hyperplasia developing into cancer. Speak to your doctor regarding the condition and make sure you follow the suggested treatment to avoid complications.

Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia

Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia (ADH) alludes to the advancement of a bosom injury because of expansion of anomalous cells inside the drain pipes of the bosoms. ADH is thought to be a hazard component or forerunner to second rate ductal carcinoma in situ, which is the reason provoke treatment and follow-up turn out to be to a great degree key for the individuals who have been determined to have ADH. The accompanying review gives data on this condition.

The term ‘hyperplasia’ refers to the overgrowth of cells in a particular part of the body. Hyperplasia of the breast, which is also known as proliferative breast disease, refers to an overgrowth of the cells in the glandular part of the breast. Glandular tissue, which is one of the two main types of tissues that is found in the breast, comprises the lobules and ducts. The supportive tissue, which consists of the fatty tissue and the connective tissue, affects the shape and size of breasts. Lobules are the glands that make breast milk, whereas the ducts carry milk from the lobules to the nipple. Hyperplasia of the glandular part of the breast is categorized into ductal hyperplasia and lobular hyperplasia. The overgrowth of abnormal cells in a duct is medically referred to as atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH). In case of atypical ductal hyperplasia, the cells look abnormal under a microscope.

ADH is a precancerous condition. Those who are affected by this condition are certainly at a greater risk of developing breast cancer. The risk is higher, especially in case of women affected by lobular hyperplasia.

Diagnosis

ADH is asymptomatic, and doesn’t cause specific symptoms. It may be incidentally detected during a clinical exam. Diagnostic procedures such as mammography are conducted when women complain of breast pain, or other visible breast changes such as formation of lumps, or any abnormal changes in the texture of the breast. If doctors suspect any abnormality after conducting a clinical breast exam, they may recommend breast imaging studies or a mammogram. Microcalcifications on the mammogram may be an indicator, but ADH can be detected only through a biopsy.

The abnormal cells can be detected when a tissue sample is examined under a microscope. Different types of biopsy procedures may be employed to extract samples of tissue. These include:

➞ Fine-needle aspiration biopsy (insertion of a small needle to remove a sample of cells from the breast)
➞ Core needle biopsy (insertion of a large needle to extract bigger samples of tissue)
➞ Incisional biopsy (removal of a small piece of tissue)
➞ Excisional biopsy (removal of the entire lump of tissue)

Incisional or excisional biopsy is conducted if the fine-needle biopsy or core biopsy don’t give conclusive results. More often than not, an excisional biopsy is conducted after a core needle biopsy.

In case of ADH, the breast lesion may have some of the characteristic features of DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ refers to a non-invasive cancer that is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells within the milk ducts), but it may not meet the complete criteria.

Treatment and Preventive Measures

Since ADH increases the risk of breast cancer, medical assistance must be sought by the affected individuals. The treatment options may include surgery, as well as drug therapy. Here are some of the treatment options and precautionary measures that are generally recommended.

➞ If the breast lesion seems to be progressive, doctors may suggest the removal of the growth through a wide local excision, or lumpectomy (removal of the abnormal tissue along with the margin or the normal surrounding tissue).

➞ Women who have ADH need to be extremely careful about the changes in shape and size of the breasts. Other symptoms that should not be ignored include nipple discharge, or the presence of a lump near the breast or under the arm. An oncologist must be consulted in the event of any unusual change in the breasts or the skin around them.

➞ Women who have been diagnosed with ADH must examine their breasts frequently. It’s extremely essential to do a breast self-examination, at least once every month. Ensure that you get a clinical breast exam done twice a year. The follow-up also involves an annual screening mammogram or an MRI.

➞ If breast cancer runs in the family, and you carry BRCA gene mutations that increases the risk for breast and ovarian cancer, doctors may recommend bilateral prophylactic mastectomy (surgery for removal of both breasts. This minimizes the chances of developing breast cancer in the future.

➞ Elevated levels of estrogen are believed to increase the risk of breast cancer. Selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) refers to a class of drugs that prevent estrogen from binding to the estrogen receptors that are found in the breast tissue. Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) and raloxifene (Evista) are drugs that are classified as selective estrogen receptor modulators. Women who come in high-risk group may be asked to take these drugs for a period of five years.

➞ Hormone replacement therapy could increase the risk of breast cancer in menopausal women. Thus, women who have ADH must avoid hormone therapy during menopause.

➞ Smoking, alcohol abuse, the use of chewing tobacco, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle could put women at an increased risk of developing breast cancer, which is why the necessary lifestyle modifications must be made.

It is believed that 20% of the women who have been diagnosed with ADH may develop breast cancer within 15 years. Since early detection and timely treatment of atypical ductal hyperplasia minimizes the risk of breast cancer, women must immediately seek medical assistance on noticing any unusual change in the breasts.

Symptoms of Bladder Infection in Women

A blazing sensation, visit inclination to urinate, and torment in the belly are a portion of the normal side effects of a bladder disease. The article to come will enlighten you all the more concerning the side effects of this kind of urinary tract contamination alongside courses in which you can treat it.

A type of urinary tract infection, bladder infection in women is caused by the inflammation of the bladder. This form of infection is also known as cystitis. When the bacteria move from the colon to the bladder and the infestation of the bacteria in the bladder grows abnormally, it can lead to a bladder infection. Unlike men, these infections are quite common in women. Nearly 20 percent of the women suffer from its symptoms at some point or the other in their lives. One of the main reasons for this is the short size of the urethra, which allows the bacteria to move easily to the bladder. The proximity of the urethra to the vagina and the anus can also lead to bacterial infection of the bladder.

In majority of the cases, bladder infections are not a serious condition and can be treated quite easily. However, they do reoccur quite frequently in women, who have suffered from this infection. Identifying the symptoms of this infection can allow you to take appropriate treatment measures.

Mild Symptoms

➤ Painful Urination
Discomfort, pain, burning or stinging sensation while urinating — also known as dysuria — can indicate a urinary tract infection in women. The stinging pain increases once you start urinating and then lingers on for quite some time. This can be extremely uncomfortable and irritating for anyone suffering from this problem.

➤ Need to Urinate Frequently
Women suffering from a bladder infection often feel the need to urinate frequently. Despite the urge to urinate, you may, or may not pass sufficient urine at all times. The need to urinate can persist even in the night. Some people, especially the elderly, can lose their urinary control at night.

➤ Foul-smelling Urine
Women suffering from bladder infections can notice a change in the smell and appearance of the urine. The urine may have a foul smell and may be cloudy or concentrated in appearance.

➤ Pain in the Lower Abdomen
Bladder infections are often accompanied by pain and discomfort in the abdomen and the lower back. There is a constant pelvic pressure and pain that can be extremely uncomfortable. The pain can persist during and after sexual intercourse.

The symptoms seen in women range from mild to severe. Many a time, women suffering from a mild infection of the bladder may not even experience any symptoms. Such asymptomatic cases may not really be a cause of serious concern. However, when the infection passes on from the bladder and affects the kidneys and other organs, it can result in severe symptoms.

Severe Symptoms

➤ Visible Traces of Blood in Urine
Spotting, or traces of blood in the urine can indicate a kidney infection, or tumors in the kidney, or bladder. Sometimes, the traces of blood may not be noticeable. Diagnostic tests recommended by the doctor can help in discerning the blood in urine. It is important to keep in mind that kidney infections are difficult to treat and can even be life-threatening in certain cases. Hence, it is advisable to consult a doctor immediately.

➤ Fever and Chills
When the infection affects the kidneys, it can cause mild fever and chills in the patient. This fever may be persistent even after taking medications for fever. Sometimes, nausea and vomiting can also be observed.

➤ Recurrent Bladder Infections
Despite proper treatment if you have recurrent bladder infections, then it may be necessary to consult a physician. Usually, this infection tends to recur once, or twice every year in majority of the women. This may be due to improper hygiene, lack of care, and other such factors. However, frequent infection can signal a severe condition, which needs to be addressed immediately.

Causes

The growth of Escherichia coli, or Staphylococcus saprophyticus bacteria is one of the common contributing factors for bladder infection. The risk increases with infections in the genitourinary system. This could be caused by:

↬ Increased sexual activity
↬ Poor hygiene
↬ Pregnancy
↬ Stress
↬ Alcohol abuse
↬ An illness which results in lowered resistance
↬ Blockages in the urinary tract
↬ Use of contraceptives that contain spermicide. Such contraceptives can destroy the friendly vaginal bacteria and lead to the growth of disease-causing bacteria in the vagina.

Treatment

Many a time, women suffering from a mild bladder infection may not even experience any symptoms — this is not considered grave. However, there is a need to watch out for the aforementioned symptoms in women. To alleviate the symptoms, antibiotics and self-care measures can be used.

➤ Use of Antibiotics

Bacteria are usually the causative agents of a bladder infection, and hence the treatment usually involves the use of antibiotics. To relieve the pain, medications, such as antispasmodics, or urinary analgesics may also be prescribed.

➤ Self-care Remedies
Increase your water intake. You must drink at least 8 glasses of water every day. It would be best to avoid caffeine, excessive sugar, and alcohol. Having cranberry juice is also known to reduce the painful symptoms of bladder infection.

  • Urinate before and after indulging in sexual intercourse. Make sure that you wash the vaginal area well, and dry it completely.
  • Bacteria flourish in a warm and moist environment. So, it is important to keep the vaginal area clean and dry. Wearing cotton undergarments will improve air circulation and help in discouraging bacterial growth. Avoid tight clothes and wet swimwear.
  • Bladder infections can also occur if you are unable to empty the bladder completely. This could be due to the presence of bladder stones. Under such circumstances, you must seek medical help for getting rid of bladder stones.

Women must ensure that they seek medical help as soon as the signs manifest themselves. While drug therapy can help in alleviating symptoms, precautionary measures can help in lowering the risk of urinary tract infections in future.