What is Breast cancer?
Breast cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the tissues of the breast. It occurs most often in women, but men can get it, too.
It’s not usually found in men because they have smaller breasts which produce less tissue for potential tumors to develop. Breast cancers are common among older women; however, younger women (in their 20s, 30s, and 40s) can develop breast cancer as well.
It’s important to remember that these cancers are not only found in women. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you if you find a lump on your breast or anywhere else. The majority of lumps or “swellings” found in the breast are not cancer.
Nevertheless, it is important to have any new or unusual lumps checked by a doctor as soon as possible. The earlier breast cancer is found, the easier it is to treat.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women over the age of 40 have a mammogram done every year. Women between the ages of 20 and 39 can also have yearly mammograms if they wish to do so.
These recommendations vary depending on your family history and your personal concerns. It’s important to talk with someone you trust about what is best for you.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
A woman’s risk for breast cancer increases as she gets older. But in some cases, women under the age of 40 can develop breast cancer, too.
It’s important to remember that even though they are less common in men, men can get breast cancer too. It is not a woman’s disease and it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you if you find a lump on your breast or anywhere else.
The majority of lumps and “swellings” found in the breast are not cancer. Nevertheless, it is important to have any new or unusual lumps checked by a doctor as soon as possible.
Causes of Breast Cancer
Researchers have identified a number of hormonal, lifestyle, and environmental factors that might raise your risk of breast cancer. However, it’s unclear why some individuals who do not possess any risk factors get cancer while others with risk factors do not. It’s probable that breast cancer is caused by a combination of your hereditary makeup and the environment.
Breast cancer most frequently begins in the milk-producing ducts (invasive ductal carcinoma). Breast cancer may start in lobules, which are glandular tissue found within the breast (invasive lobular carcinoma), or by other cells or tissue within the breast.
Breast cancer occurs when some breast cells develop abnormally and divide too quickly, according to doctors. These cells grow faster than healthy cells do and build up over time, resulting in a lump or mass. Cancerous cells may spread (metastasize) throughout your breast, into your lymph nodes, or to other areas of your body.
Types of Breast Cancer
There are many types of breast cancer, but the most common types are invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma. These cancers begin in the cells of the milk ducts or milk-producing gland tissue, called lobules.
Invasive means that cancer cells have invaded nearby tissues. Invasive lobular carcinoma spreads to nearby lymph nodes first and then to other parts of the body later on. In contrast, invasive ductal carcinomas spread to the lymph nodes first and then beyond.
These cancers can also be “in situ”, which means they start in the milk ducts or lobules but have not yet invaded any surrounding tissue.
The most common type of non-invasive breast cancer is called mammary dysplasia, or atypical hyperplasia. This is a condition in which there are abnormal cells in the breast, but they have not turned into cancer.
Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. It can help your doctor find small tumors before they can be felt.
Symptoms of breast cancer
Signs and Symptoms of breast cancer include lumps, swelling, pain, or changes in the size or shape of one breast. These symptoms can be caused by something other than breast cancer, but it’s important to get them checked out by your doctor as soon as possible.
There is no reason to panic about a lump on the breast so long as there is a good explanation like a cyst. However, any new or changing lumps should be promptly checked out as they might indicate cancer.
There are certain risk factors that can increase your chances of developing breast cancer. These include being over the age of 40, having a family history of breast cancer, and being overweight or obese. But even if you don’t have these risk factors, it is still possible to develop the disease.
When it comes to breast cancer, early detection increases your chances for successful treatment. Early detection can also reduce the number of women who die from the disease every year in Canada. For this reason, it is important that all women are familiar with what healthy breasts look and feel like, and that they perform regular breast self-examinations.
If you do find a lump or other change in your breasts, don’t panic. Contact your doctor as soon as possible for an evaluation. Breast cancer can be treated successfully if it is caught early.
But no matter what treatment a woman chooses, it’s important to remember that a diagnosis of breast cancer is not the end of the world. With proper support and care, most women can cope with their illness and go on to live long, healthy lives.
When to Consult a Doctor?
Consult a doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms:
- lumps in breast
- swelling in breast
- pain in breast
- change in size or shape of the breast
- nipple discharge other than breast milk
- rash on nipple
- skin dimpling or puckering
- inverted nipple
Treatment for Breast Cancer
If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, there are many treatment options available. Treatment depends on the type and stage of cancer, as well as your age and health.
Some common treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy.
Many women also have a mastectomy, which is the removal of one or both breasts. Although this may seem overwhelming, many people find it helpful to talk with others who have been through a similar experience.
Remember that you are not alone and there are many people who can support you during your treatment and recovery stage.
Quick Answer: What do you mean by Inherited breast cancer?
According to doctors, around 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are attributed to gene mutations inherited through generations of a family.
If you have a family history of breast cancer or other cancers and your doctor suspects BRCA or other genes that are being passed down through your family, he or she may recommend a blood test to help identify particular mutations in BRCA or other genes.
Consider seeing a genetic counselor for a referral. A genetic counselor can assist with shared decision-making by discussing the advantages, risks, and limits of genetic testing.
A number of hereditary mutated genes that enhance the chance of breast cancer have been identified. Breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2), both of which significantly raises the risk of both breast and ovarian cancer, are well-known examples.
Risk factors of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer risk factors are things that increase your chances of getting breast cancer. However, having one or even a few breast cancer risk factors does not necessarily indicate that you will get breast cancer. Many women who develop breast cancer have no identifiable risks other than being women.
Breast cancer risk is increased by several factors, including:
Being female. Breast cancer is significantly more common in women.
Increasing age. As you become older, your chance of getting breast cancer rises.
A personal history of breast conditions. You have a higher risk of breast cancer if you’ve had a biopsy for lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) or atypical hyperplasia of the breast.
A personal history of breast cancer. If you’ve had breast cancer in one breast, you have a higher risk of developing the disease in the other.
A family history of breast cancer. Your risk of breast cancer is higher if your mother, sister, or daughter was diagnosed with the disease at a young age. However, the majority of individuals who get breast cancer do not have a family history of it.
Inherited genes that increase cancer risk. Breast cancer can be hereditary, with certain gene changes that raise the chance of developing it passed down from parents to children. The most well-known gene mutations are BRCA1 and BRCA2. These genes may significantly raise your risk of breast cancer and other diseases, but they do not guarantee its occurrence.
Radiation exposure. If you were treated with radiation to your chest as a youngster or young adult, your risk of breast cancer is higher.
Obesity. Obesity raises your risk of breast cancer.
Beginning your period at a younger age. Women who begin their periods before the age of 12 are at a higher risk of breast cancer, according to studies.
Beginning menopause at an older age. If you experience menopause at an older age, your chances of getting breast cancer are enhanced.
Having your first child at an older age. Breast cancer is more common in women who give birth to their first kid after the age of 30.
Having never been pregnant. Women who have never given birth face a higher risk of breast cancer than women who have previously given birth.
Postmenopausal hormone therapy. Breast cancer is more likely in women who use hormone therapy medications that include estrogen and progesterone to treat the symptoms and indicators of menopause. When women cease using these medicines, their risk of breast cancer decreases.
Drinking alcohol. Breast cancer is more likely a result of alcohol consumption.
Breast cancer risk reduction for women with a high risk
You may ask your doctor about options to reduce your risk, such as:
- Preventive medications (chemoprevention). Estrogen-blocking medicines, such as selective estrogen receptor modulators and aromatase inhibitors, reduce the chance of breast cancer in women at high risk. Because these medications have the potential to cause adverse events, doctors only prescribe them for women with a high risk of breast cancer. Consult your doctor about the advantages and risks of these drugs.
- Preventive surgery. Women at extremely high risk of breast cancer may elect to have their healthy breasts removed (prophylactic mastectomy). They might also opt for a prophylactic oophorectomy, which eliminates the danger of both breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
There are many things women can do to reduce their risk of breast cancer. Some of these steps include exercising most days of the week, limiting postmenopausal hormone therapy, and maintaining a healthy weight. It is also important to choose a healthy diet. These are all important measures that women can take to help reduce their risk of breast cancer. While these steps may not lower the risk of breast cancer to zero, they do provide women with options to help reduce their personal risk.
Breast awareness can’t prevent breast cancer, but it may help you to better understand the normal changes that your breasts undergo.
To reduce the risk of breast cancer, use the lowest dose of hormone therapy possible for the shortest amount of time.
Breast Cancer FAQs
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer occurs when there is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the mammary glands. In most cases, these cells form a tumor that can be seen on the outside of the body. The disease spreads from where it first formed to other parts of the body. There are various types of breast cancer and each type has different behavior and prognosis (outlook). Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women.
How common is it?
One in eight women will develop breast cancer some time during her life, but it is not considered a normal part of aging. While breast cancer incidence increases with age, more than 15 percent of all women with breast cancer are under the age of 40 when they are diagnosed.
What causes breast cancer?
The exact cause of breast cancer is not known, but some risk factors have been identified. These include Age (breast cancer mainly occurs in women over 50 years old). A family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Being overweight or obese after menopause. Never having children and not breastfeeding. Drinking alcohol. Physical inactivity. Cigarette smoking (smoking is responsible for at least 15 percent of all breast cancer cases).
What are the symptoms?
The possible symptoms of breast cancer include: Breast lumps that feel different than usual or that keep growing, especially if they are accompanied by dimpling or puckering of the breast skin. Lump in the underarm area (can also be due to benign conditions like cysts and fibroadenomas). Thickening or swelling of part of the breast (especially if it is red, white, or dark). Enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit. Change in the size, shape, or appearance of the breast. Nipple discharge other than breast milk (this may be thick, bloody, or watery). Rash on the chest. Pain in any area of the breast.
What are the treatment options?
The main types of treatments used for breast cancer are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. The choice of treatment depends on the stage (extent) of cancer, the woman’s age and health, and other factors. Some women also choose to have a mastectomy (removal of the entire breast).
What is the prognosis for Breast cancer?
The prognosis for breast cancer depends on the stage (extent) of cancer, the woman’s age and health, and other factors. Many women with breast cancer can be cured. However, some women have a recurrence (return) of cancer after treatment. If you have any more questions about breast cancer, please talk to your doctor.
Where can I get reliable information?
These are only a few of the many reliable sources of information on breast cancer. Always talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about this disease.
Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in Canadian women. There are certain risk factors that can increase someone’s chances of developing breast cancer. These include being over the age of 40, having a family history of breast cancer, and being overweight or obese. But even if you don’t have these risk factors, it is still possible to develop the disease. If you are concerned about breast cancer or have any other questions, please consult your doctor.
A breast swelling or thickening that isn’t the same as surrounding tissue. Change in a woman’s breast size, shape, or contour. A change in pigmentation of skin around the nipple (areola) or breast skin. Peeling, scaling, crusting, or flaking of the colored area of skin surrounding the nipple.