In year 2007 a research by American cancer society found that 178,480 new cases of breast cancer would be diagnosed in United States and further 62,030 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in the coming years. However, rates of death from breast cancer will decrease and it will keep on decreasing with the increase in awareness of breast cancer.
Breast cancer develops in the breast tissues that cause the abnormal growth of breast. Most of the time breast cancer arises in women only 1% of breast cancer occurs in men. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women. About one in eight women have the life time risk of having breast cancer.
Breast is made of fats, glands and the connective tissues. It has tiny lobes that end in to the milk glands. These tiny ducts run from glands and ends at the nipple.
Types of Breast Cancer
Following are the types of breast cancer
80% of breast cancer occurs in the ducts of breast which is known as ductal cancer.
10-15% of cancer occurs in the lobules ob breast which is known as lobule cancer.
When breast cancer spread to the surrounding tissues it is known as the infiltrating cancer.
Metastasis cancer is the cancer which is spread from the point of origination to the distant places. The breast cancer spreads to the lymph nodes, brain, bones and the liver.
Some other types of breast cancers are inflammatory breast cancer, medullary breast cancer, mixed tumor breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Causes
Gender is the main risk because breast cancer occurs mostly in women. Age is another factor for breast cancer and the risk of breast cancer increases with the age. Women with age of 30 above have the risk of developing breast cancer.
A woman who previously has the cancer in breast is more likely to develop cancer again in the same breast or in the other breast.
Following are the causes of breast cancer
Family history is very important in developing the breast cancer. If anyone in the family has the cancer it increases the risk of cancer in the offspring too. If first degree female relatives or second degree female relatives have the breast cancer it also increases the risk of breast cancer in the daughters.
So the breast cancer is likely to be transferred through genes from one generation to another.
Hormones play an important role in developing the breast cancer. Women who have periods before the age of 11 or who have menopause after the age of 55 they have more chances of having breast cancer.
Women who have no children or have children after the age of 30 have more chances of developing breast cancer.
Women who are overweight or intake fatty foods may develop breast cancer. Use of alcohol also increases the risk factor for developing breast cancer in women.
Women who received the radiation therapy before the age of 30have more chances of developing breast cancer as compare to the general population.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Initial stage of breast cancer has no symptoms. It is usually not painful.
Following are the symptoms of breast cancer
All the breast lumps are not cancerous but they need to be checked by a doctor.
Breast discharge is common in breast cancer but it is more dangerous if it is coming from one breast or it is bloody.
Nipple inversion also a symptom of breast cancer and it needs to be checked.
Change in skin of Breasts
Changes in the skin of breasts include redness, change in texture. Sometimes these changes can be a cause of breast cancer otherwise it is not something very dangerous. These changes can also be due to the skin diseases.
Pain in the Breast
Pain in the breast can also be a symptom of breast cancer.
Swelling in the Breast
Swelling in the breast can be a symptom of breast cancer.
Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
Breast can be diagnosed in the following ways
Breast cancer is diagnosed through examination of breast, mammography, ultrasound, MRI and biopsy. Biopsy is the most reliable way of diagnosing breast cancer.
Examination of Breast
Careful examination of breast, armpits and the collarbone is done to diagnose the lumps etc in the breast.
Mammograms are the x-rays of the breast to define the nature of lumps found in the breast.
Ultrasound is also used to evaluate the breast lumps. It also demonstrates that the lumps are filled with any fluid or is solid.
MRI provides additional information about the findings seen in mammography or ultra sound.
Biopsy is the only reliable way to diagnose the breast cancer. In biopsy cells or tissues from the breast are taken to check the cancer is present or not.
Biopsy is of many types including surgical biopsy, Fine needle biopsy and Core needle biopsy.
Complications in Breast Cancer
Complications in breast cancer include destruction of breast, destruction of chest wall that surrounds the chest, chest pain, nipple discharge, collapsed lungs, respiratory failure, liver failure and fracture of bones, radiation therapy side effects and the chemotherapy side effects.
Breast Cancer Treatment
Surgery is the important treatment of the breast cancer. The type of surgery is decided on the basis of size, location of the tumor, personal wish and the health condition of the patient.
There are different stages of the breast cancer and the treatment is given after identifying the stage of the cancer.
- Stage 0 is the stage in which no lymph nodes are affected.
- Stage 1 is the stage in which the cancer is less than 2 cm in diameter.
- Stage 2 is the stage in which the cancer is spread to the lymph nodes.
- Stage 3 is the stage of cancer in which the size of cancer is larger than 5 cm.
- Stage 4 is the metastasis stage of breast cancer in which cancer is spread to the other parts of the body.
Medical Treatment for Breast Cancer
Many treatments along with the surgery are given to the patients of breast cancer including radio therapy, chemo therapy or hormonal therapy.
Radiation therapy is used to kill the left cells of tumor after surgery. It works only on the tumor cells that come under its beam.
Radiation therapy is given five days a week for five to six weeks and it takes only few minutes.
Radiation therapy is less painful and it has few side effects. Radiation side effects include skin burn, difficulty swallowing, hair loss, headaches, weight loss, vomiting, fatigue, rashes on skin and change color of skin etc.
Chemotherapy consists of medicines that kill the tumor cells or stop them from growing.
Chemotherapy therapy is different from radiation in the way that it treats entire body and then targets the tumor cells for treatment.
Chemotherapy has side effects including nausea, fatigue, low blood pressure, tiredness, fever, loss of appetite, bone marrow damage, constipation, diarrhea, hair loss, risk of infection, mouth sores etc.
Surgery is the first step after the diagnosis of breast cancer. Surgery depends on the size, type of the tumor and the health of the patient.
Breast Cancer Prevention
- The main risk factors involve sex, age and genes.
- Women should go for regular screening, self examination of breast.
- Regular mammography can also prevent breast cancer.
- For the women who are menstruating the best time for check up is after monthly periods.
- Women above the age of 40 should also go for regular clinical breast examination in order to prevent the breast cancer.
- Obesity should be controlled to prevent the breast cancer as the obesity also contributes to the breast cancer.
- Excessive uses of alcohol also increase the chances for breast cancer.
- Due to the increases in the awareness of the breast cancer among people, advancement in the treatment the rate of breast cancer is continuously declining and will keep on declining with the passage of time.
- Breast cancer is a highly treatable disease and screening of breast cancer enables to know about the type and stage of the cancer after that best treatment is given to the patients.