In every 4 minutes, one woman is detected with breast cancer. We lose one woman in every 13 minutes due to breast cancer. Women are mostly diagnosed with this cancer at a very advanced stage. It is rare, however, men can get breast cancer too. One solution is to be aware of and never avoid the signs of your body.
Breast cancer occurs when cells in breast overflow. Mutations or changes taking place in genes that regulate cell growth, lead to this overflow. There are various kinds of breast cancer, depending on which cells in the breast, turn into cancer.
A breast is formed by three main parts: Lobules, Ducts, and Connective Tissue. Lobules are the glands that make milk. Ducts, attached to these lobules, deliver milk to the nipple. The fibrous and fatty connective tissue surrounds and clasp everything together.
9 out 10 breast cancers happen in the ducts or lobules. However, it can also occur in the connective tissue. Moreover, Breast cancer can metastasize by travelling via blood vessels and lymph vessels to spread outside the breasts.
Signs that You should Consult a Doctor
- Lumps, hard knot or thickening in the breast or underarm.
- Redness, swelling, darkness or warmth appears on the breasts.
- Any sudden change in the shape or size of the breasts.
- Puckering or dimpling of the skin on the breasts.
- Discharge from the nipple.
If you notice any of these signs or changes, then you must visit a doctor.
All risk factors do not have an equivalent effect and having a risk factor does not necessarily imply one getting the disease. It is a combination of risk factors that might determine the disease.
- Age factor: The risk of breast cancer increases with age. Mostly, 50 years or older.
- A personal history of breast conditions: If one has had a breast biopsy with lobular carcinoma.
- A personal history of breast cancer: The cancer cells can spread from one breast to another.
- A family history: The parents or sibling can pass the disease through blood. Although, people suffering from breast cancer often don’t necessarily have family breast cancer history. Certain mutations/genes changes which are passed from parents to children can increase the risk of having breast cancer.
- Obesity: Being Overweight might lead to breast cancer or other deadly diseases.
- Reproductive history: Being exposed to hormones longer; menstrual periods before age 12 and starting menopause after age 55, can raise the risk. Also, Females giving birth after the age 30 & not breastfeeding are at a higher risk.
- Postmenopausal hormone therapy: Certain hormone therapy medications that contain estrogen and progesterone used to treat the menopause can put the women into danger and increase the risk.
Tests to Detect Breast Cancer
- Clinical Breast Exam: An examination for lumps or abnormalities by a doctor or nurse, using hands.
- Mammograms: An X-ray of the breast (Mammogram) is preferred by many doctors to screen breast cancer at an early stage. A diagnostic mammogram to further evaluate an abnormality, might follow. MRI might also be used along with mammograms to screen women at high risk.
- Breast Ultrasound: Ultrasound produces images of structures deep within the body by sound waves. It is commonly used to examine if a new breast lump is a solid mass or a fluid-filled cyst.
- Biopsy: Taking out a sample of breast cells for further testing from the suspicious area. Kinds of biopsies include fine-needle aspiration, core biopsy, or open biopsy.
Types of Breast Cancer
Non-invasive Breast Cancers:
Non- invasive or in situ breasts cancer is that type of cancer that does not spread from the original tissue. They are formed within the milk ducts or lobules. There are two kinds of non-invasive cancers:
- Ductal Carcinoma in situ (DCIS) grows in the milk ducts of the breast. This cancer is not metastatic in nature and doesn’t spread to surroundings or other body parts. It is not included in deadly cancers, but this cancer can lead to invasive cancers.
- Lobular Carcinoma in situ (LCIS) begins in the milk-making glands at the end of breast ducts i.e., lobules. Same as DCIS this cancer doesn’t risk life but can lead to other risky cancers.
Invasive Breast Cancers:
This cancer falls in an expandable column, which signifies that this cancer fans out in surrounding breast tissues. It grows inside the breast and can spread to the surrounding lymph nodes in the breast, armpit, other organs or tissues.
- Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) is the most common type. It begins in the milk ducts and then spreads to the surrounding tissue in the breast. Once spread to the tissue outside milk ducts, it can invade other nearby organs and tissue.
- Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC) begins developing in breast’s lobules and invades nearby tissue.
Other, less common types of breast cancer include:
- Paget’s disease of the nipple
- Inflammatory breast cancer
- Phyllodes tumors
- Triple-negative breast cancer
Breast can be treated by various methods. However, the selection of the method totally relies on how much this disease has spread and what kind of cancer it is.
- Surgery: It’s a method in which doctors cut and remove the cancer tissues. There are various kinds of operations. Lumpectomy is a surgery in which doctors extract only the infected part of one’s breast. Whereas, in Mastectomy the whole part i.e., the whole breast is removed. A doctor might suggest other surgeries depending on the type and condition of the cancer.
- Chemotherapy: Drugs and medicines are used to kill the cancer. Mostly, these drugs are used after the surgery, to eliminate the remaining infected cells from the body. In some cases, doctors ask patients to opt this therapy before the operation to lessen the tumor. Although, chemo aids in fighting against the tumor but, it also affects the healthy cells of the body.
- Hormonal therapy: Stopping the cancer cells from taking the hormones they require. Basically, in this treatment some drugs are provided to the patient which avert the hormones, especially estrogen from powering the growth of breast cancer cells.
- Biological therapy: In this method doctors boost the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells or lessen the side effects.
- Radiation therapy. Kill the cancer cells by using high-energy rays. In this treatment high-energy waves are used to kill the cancer cells. Doctor may advise the patient to undergo radiation therapy if the disease has spread.