Breast cancer is a medical condition in which healthy breast cells undergo abnormal growth and become cancerous. Though it can affect both males and females, it is more prevalent among women. The type of breast cancer diagnosed depends on the type of cells that are impacted.
What kind of cells are in the breast?
generally, the breast consists of lobules, ducts, and connecting tissues.
Lobules:Lobules are glandular structures responsible for producing milk. If lobular carcinoma develops, it forms a tumor or lump in the breast. Lobular carcinoma is less common than ductal carcinoma and occurs when cancer cells grow in the lobules.
Ducts: Breast ducts are tubes that transport milk from glands to nipples. When cancer develops in these ducts, it is called ductal carcinoma. Unlike other types of breast cancer, ductal carcinoma usually does not form a tumor or hard mass. This makes it harder to detect and diagnose. Ductal carcinoma is the most common form of breast cancer.
Connective tissues: These are fibrous tissues that hold all breast tissues together. If cancer develops in the connective tissues is called breast sarcoma. In this type of lump, a hard tumor is formed in the breast.
Warning Signs of Breast Cancer:
Following are some general alarming signs.
- Redness in the breast skin
- Hard mass or lump felt on self-breast examination
- Inverted nipple
- Nipple irritation or yellowish or reddish discharge
- Change in the shape, appearance, and size of the breast
- Sudden pain and swelling in the breast.
What Are The Risk Factors of Breast Cancer?
The exact cause of this type of cancer is unknown; however, some possible risk factors may be the cause of its development.
- Genetic or Family History: If you have any blood relation like mother, daughter, or sisters having it, then it is a possible risk that you may have breast cancer at any stage in your life.
- Radiation Exposure: Moreover, Strong radiation or being treated with radiation for any other issue may be the risk factor for it.
- Starting of Periods Before 12: Girls with periods starting before the age of 12 are at high risk of developing this type of cancer.
- Late Menopause: Women with late menopause are also at higher risk.
- Hormonal Treatment: Women who have been treated for the management of menopausal symptoms with hormonal therapy are at greater risk.
- History of Lumpectomy. However, If someone has a history of lumps in the breast, it’s more chance to develop breast cancer in later stages.
- Being female and older age: Being a female with older age can be a major factor in developing it.
- Being obese/overweight: Obesity can be a risk factor for developing this cancer. As in overweight or being obese interferes with hormonal imbalances in the body which may lead to breast cancer.
- women who have never experienced periods in life are at greater risk of developing breast cancer.
Ways to Prevent Breast Cancer:
Here are some precautionary steps to take.
- Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding results in lowering the estrogen level. Missed periods lower the level of estrogen furthermore having 9 missed cycles in pregnancy lowers the risk of breast cancer. Estrogen is the hormone that helps in the growth of cancer in breast tissues.
- Healthy nutrition: Having healthy food can lower the risk of breast cancer
- Healthy weight and regular exercise: Doing proper exercise and maintaining an idle weight can maintain hormones in balance and lower the risk of breast cancer.
- Avoiding drinking alcohol can lower the risk of breast cancer.
Ways to identify Breast cancer during its initial phases:
It can be detected in its early stages by following
- Self-breast examination: Continued breast examination may result in early detection of any symptom of cancer in the very initial stages.
- Breast Ultrasound: Ultrasound can be used to fine and localize any form of cysts or dilated duct in the breast.
- Mammogram: Mammogram is the most accurate test using X-rays to find breast tumors or early changes in the breast tissues.
How to diagnose breast cancer?
It can be diagnosed by doing a biopsy, which indicates the exact type of cells involved, based on the type of cancer treatment plan. Most accurate test to define cancerous cells.
MRI/CT scan: MRI/CT scans are used to find the extension of the disease in other parts of the body.
Mammogram/Mammography: Initial test to find the tumor in the breast.
Ultrasound of the Breast: It is also used to find out any changes and can define the size of the tumor or any dilatation of the duct.
Treatment Options and Management:
After a biopsy report, cancer specialists will determine the type of treatment based on the specific type of cancer. The available treatment options include:
Surgical Resection of Lump /Whole Breast: Based on the staging of it your physician will decide the best treatment options. If the cancer is specific to the breast then surgical resection of the part involved or the whole breast is resected called mastectomy. This is done after giving chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy drugs are administered to kill cancer cells or to shrink the size of the tumor before surgery.
Hormonal Therapy: Hormonal therapy is also given to shrink the tumor size and prevent further tumor growth.
Radiation: Radiation is also given to shrink the size of the tumor or to kill the cancer cells.
Targeted Therapy: In this therapy, medicine targets the proteins in the breast cells necessary for their growth. These medicines inhibit the synthesis of these proteins. The side effects of the medicine used in targeted therapy are different from chemo drugs.
Immunotherapy: In this treatment patient’s immunity is boosted to fight against cancer cells,
Metastatic Breast Cancer: If cancer has spread to other parts of the body like the brain, liver, bones, abdomen, etc., then the treatment options will be different. Your physician will go for palliative care to keep the patient comfortable and ease the symptoms.
However, Early detection and consultation with an oncology physician are crucial for successful treatment of breast cancer. To raise awareness, healthcare providers should educate individuals about symptoms and proper self-breast examination techniques through community teaching programs and symposiums.