Home » Health Conditions A-Z » Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is a cancer that starts in the breast tissue commonly from the inner liner of the milk ducts or lobules known as the ductal carcinomas and lobular carcinomas. It is predominantly found in women, but men can also be diagnosed with it is as well. Breast cancer can be invasive or noninvasive. Invasive means that the cancer has spread from its starting point, while noninvasive means it has yet to invade other breast tissue.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

There are no early signs of breast cancer; as breast cancer does not cause pain. Those symptoms that could be indicators are:

  • Breast Lump or lump in the armpit that is hard.
  • Inverted nipple.
  • Peeling, scaling and flaking of the nipple or breast skin
  • Nipple changes in size, shape, or the breast has redness, dimpling, and puckering.
  • Fluid coming from the nipples that could be clear, yellow, green, look like pus and it may be bloody.

The advanced symptoms of breast cancer are:

  • Bone pain
  • Breast Pain and discomfort
  • Skin ulcers
  • Weight loss
  • Swelling of one arm indicating the breast with cancer.

What Causes Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is caused by the breast cells growing abnormally, and dividing more rapidly than the healthy cells do. These cells form a tumor that may spread through the breast to the lymph nodes and can go to the other parts of the body. The causes of breast cancer can vary. Women with a family history of the disease are more likely to be at risk as it could be inherited through gene mutation. Those who have started their periods early before the age of 12 might be more at risk. Age can play a factor in women over the age of 50 as advanced breast cancer is usually found at or above 50.

Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

The diagnosis of breast cancer is done first by a physical exam of the breast, armpit, neck, and chest area. Test that are used to diagnose breast cancer are:

  • Mammogram—an x-ray of the breast used to screen for breast cancer if there are any abnormalities then further test will be ran.
  • Breast MRI—are used to help better identify the breast lump or evaluate an abnormal change on a mammogram
  • Breast ultrasound—used to show whether the lump is solid mass or a fluid-filled cyst, which can be benign or cancerous.
  • Breast biopsy—removes a sample of suspicious breast cells testing it to see whether the cells are cancerous.
  • Mammography—is used to screen for breast cancer or help identify the breast lump.

Treatment of Breast Cancer

Treatment is based on the type of breast cancer an individual has and then is determined by the doctor. Many women undergo surgery and or other treatment such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy or radiation.

  • Lumpectomy is the term used for such a surgery and reserved for smaller tumors that can be easily separated from the surrounding tissue.
  • Mastectomy—is a surgery that removes all the breast tissue, this usually results in the removal of the lobules, ducts, fatty tissue, nipple, and areola. In some cases the entire muscle of the chest wall is removed.
  • Sentinel node biopsy—the removal of one lymph node after the doctor has determined which lymph node receives the drainage from the cancer. This node is tested and if no cancer is found then the rest of the nodes need not be removed.
  • Radiation Therapy—uses high powered beams of energy to kill cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy—uses drugs to destroy the cancer cells
  • Hormone therapy—is used after other treatments to decrease the chances of cancer returning.

How to prevent Breast Cancer

Since there are factors that can’t be controlled such as genes and family history, the most recommended prevention methods is a change in daily life, such as limiting the intake of alcohol, increasing exercise for at least 20 minutes daily, maintaining a healthy weight, changing diet to more healthy food such as: whole grain, eating five plus serving of vegetables and fruits daily, take out process foods and limit red meat in diet. In women 50 and older, limiting postmenopausal hormone therapy has also been proven assistive.

Ways to prevent breast cancer or detect the disease early and increase the chances of dealing with in its early stages are to perform regular breast self-exams starting when women are in their twenties. In the thirties, women should begin clinical breast exams no less than every three years. When one reaches their early forties, a mammogram should be completed no less than every two years. Once women are in their fifties the mammogram should be performed yearly. In this way, should breast cancer develop, it can be caught and dealt with in its early stages.

 

Reference:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/breast-cancer/DS00328
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001911/
http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/
http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/about-breast-cancer/symptoms.aspx