Breast cells grow and divide out of control, forming a lump of tissue known as tumor, this is how breast cancer forms.
Nearly 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer over their lifetime. If it’s found at an early stage, there is a good possibility of recovery.
Women must thus periodically check their breasts for changes and always get any changes examined by a doctor.
Blood and lymph vessels are two ways for breast cancer to spread outside the breast. Breast cancer is said to have metastasized when it spreads to other bodily regions.
Despite the fact that breast cancer can occur at any age, it is often diagnosed in individuals over the age of 50.
There are three main parts of a breast: connective tissue, ducts, and lobules. The glands that generate milk are called lobules.
Milk travels through tubes called ducts to the nipple. The connective tissue, which is made up of fatty and fibrous tissue, envelops and holds everything in place.
Different parts of the breast might give rise to breast cancer. The majority of breast cancers start in the ducts or lobules.
Although rare, males can also develop breast cancer, but women account for the vast majority of cases.
Causes of Breast Cancer
It is unclear exactly what causes breast cancer. However, some factors have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
- Obesity: Obesity increases the risk of breast cancer and breast cancer recurrence.
- Exposure to radiation: Breast cancer is more likely to develop in those who have previously undergone radiation therapy, especially to the head, neck, or chest.
- Tobacco: Several forms of cancer, including breast cancer, have been linked to tobacco use.
- Alcohol: According to research, drinking alcohol may make you more likely to get some types of breast cancer.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy: Breast cancer diagnoses are more likely in those who use hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
- Sex: Breast cancer is far more common in women than in males.
- Genetics or family history: You have a higher chance of getting the disease at some time in your life if your parents, siblings, children, or other close relatives have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Age: Your risk of breast cancer rises if you are 55 or older.
- Never been pregnant: Compared to women who have had one or more pregnancies, women who have never been pregnant have a higher chance of developing breast cancer.
- Having your first kid at a later age: Breast cancer risk may be higher for women who have their first child after turning 35.
- Starting your menstruation earlier in life: Your chance of developing breast cancer rises if you start menstruating before age 12.
- Beginning menopause at an older age: You are more prone to get breast cancer if you entered menopause late in life.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
- Breast that has changed in size, shape, or appearance.
- Skin changes over the breast, such as dimpling.
- A breast thickening or lump that feels different from the surrounding tissue.
- A newly inverted nipple.
- A blood-stained or clear fluid discharge from your nipple.
- A marble-like hardened area under your skin.
- Over your breast, there may be redness or pitting similar to orange skin.
- The pigmented region of skin surrounding the nipple (areola), or breast skin begins to peel, scale, crust, or flake.
Breast Cancer Treatment
Surgery is generally the first type of treatment you’ll have, followed by chemotherapy, radiation, or, in certain situations, hormone or targeted therapies.
Breast Cancer Prevention
- Maintain healthy weight: It’s crucial to make an effort to reach and maintain a healthy weight if you’ve experienced menopause. This is due to the fact that excess weight or obesity increases oestrogen production, which raises the risk of breast cancer.
- Don’t consume alcohol: If you prefer to drink, limit yourself to no more than one drink each day.
- Consume little saturated fat.
- Regular exercise: According to research, regular exercise can cut your risk of breast cancer by almost a third.
Types of Breast Cancer
- Ductal carcinoma in situ: Ductal carcinoma in situ, also known as Stage 0 breast cancer, is viewed by some as precancerous because the cells haven’t moved past your milk ducts.
- Paget’s disease of the breast: The skin around your nipple and areola is affected by this cancer.
- Lobular carcinoma in situ: A precancerous condition in which the lobules of your breast have abnormal cells. Although it isn’t a true cancer, this sign may point to a later risk of breast cancer.
- Triple negative breast cancer: Due to the absence of three of the indicators linked to other types of breast cancer, this type of breast cancer is known as triple negative. Prognosis and treatment are problematic as a result.
- Infiltrating (invasive) lobular carcinoma: Breast lobules are the origin of this cancer, spreading to the surrounding breast tissue.
- Infiltrating (invasive) ductal carcinoma: Beginning in the milk ducts of your breast, this cancer breaks through the duct wall and spreads to the surrounding breast tissue.
- Inflammatory breast cancer: This type of cancer is rare and severe, and it looks like an infection. Redness, swelling, pitting, and dimpling of the breast skin are typical symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer. It is caused by obstructive cancer cells in the lymph vessels under the skin.
Stages of Breast Cancer
Stage 0: This means it hasn’t broken out of your breast ducts. The illness is non-invasive.
Stage 1: Cancer cells have spread to surrounding breast tissue.
Stage 2: At this stage, tumors may or may not affect the nearby lymph nodes and range in size from 2 to 5 cm.
Stage 3: The cancer has already spread past its origin at this time. It could have spread to neighboring lymph nodes and tissue, but it hasn’t reached distant organs.
Breast cancer at stage 3 is typically referred to as “locally advanced.”
Stage 4: The cancer has spread to parts of your body other than your breast, such your liver, lungs, bones, or brain.
Metastatic breast cancer is another name for stage 4 breast cancer.
NB: Even if your most recent mammography came out normal, make an appointment with your doctor immediately if you discover a lump or other change in your breast.
(Reference: Cleveland Clinic, CDC, American Cancer Society, NHS, Mayo Clinic)