Breast Cancer

Breast cancer, as the name suggests, is a cancer in which malignant cells (cancer cells) develop from the breast tissues. One of the leading causes of deaths among women, breast cancer has many subtypes, the most prominent being the ductal carcinoma, in which the cancer begins in the milk ducts and lobular carcinoma, which starts in the milk glands. The cancer, although is common amongst females, cases of male breast cancer have also been detected.

Breast Cancer Symptoms

Breast cancer symptoms vary from one patient to another, but there are some changes that are taken as warning signs, including:

  • Formation of a lump in the breast, which feels different from the other tissues. These lumps usually appear in the breast, but may also be present in or around the armpits.
  • Change in the size and structure of the breast. For e.g. one breast may become larger or lower than the other, the nipple may change position and become inverted or rashes may appear on the breast.
  • Discharge of a clear or bloody fluid from the nipple and dimpling of the skin on the breast.
  • Breast inflammation
  • Cysts
  • Infections

Breast Cancer Causes

There are no definite causes that can be singled out as reasons for breast cancer, but many lifestyles as well as genetic factors are linked with it.

  • Genetics: Sometimes, the gene for cancer is carried in the genes of family members and makes a person susceptible to breast cancer.
  • Lifestyle factors: Smoking, alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, lack of breastfeeding as well as childbearing are some of the factors connected with breast cancer.
  • Early Menstruation, usually before the age of 12 and late menopause, usually after the age of 55.

Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Breast cancer is diagnosed through a variety of tests which can be time consuming. These include:

  • Self examination: Women, especially over the age of 40, are advised to examine their breasts every month and check for any sort of changes or formation of lumps.
  • Pathological Tests: These clinical tests are of utmost importance as they check for hormone status, lymph node size, etc.
  • Tests and screening: A mammogram is perhaps the first test to be taken when the patient or the doctor suspects the cancer. The tests that may follow include MRI, Ultrasound, CAT scans, PET scans, etc.

Breast Cancer Treatment

It is a good news that, if detected early, breast cancer can be managed and the patient can lead a normal life. However, in other cases, the treatment depends on the stage of the cancer as well as the age of the person. Treatments include:

Surgery for Breast Cancer

  • Surgery: The surgical removal of the cancerous tissues is one of the most common methods used. These surgeries may remove the complete breast (Mastectomy), a quarter of the breast (quadrantectomy) or small part of the breast (lumpectomy).

Chemotherapy or radiation therapy for Breast Cancer

  • Chemotherapy or the uses of drugs to stop the stop the growth of the cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy includes using x rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells.

Hormone therapy for Breast Cancer

  • Hormone therapy uses special treatments that either stop the production of hormones in the body or block their actions so that the cancer cells do not grow any further.