Breast Cancer is the most common cancer among women and the second leading cause of cancer death in women. Many of us have heard of breast cancer over the years, but do you have a good knowledge about breast cancer, like what causes it, types, stages and so on? This post will give you an in-depth knowledge of breast cancer, what is breast cancer? types of breast cancer, causes of breast cancer, symptoms of breast cancer, stages of breast cancer, treatment of breast cancer and prevention of breast cancer. Without any delay let's start with, what is breast cancer?
Source – Wikimedia Commons
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a disease that occurs when cells in the breast tissue change and keep reproducing. It usually starts in the milk-producing grands or the tub-shade ducts that carry milk from the lobules to the nipple. Do men have breast cancer also? Yes, they do, anyone with breast tissue can develop breast cancer, but it is very rare in men. This post will deal with breast cancer in women. Let's move on to the various types of breast cancer.
Types of Breast Cancer
There are several types of breast cancer but we will be looking at the 2 broad categories of breast cancer, which are
- Invasive Breast Cancer
Invasive breast cancer is the most common type of breast cancer. It occurs when cancerous cells break tissue barriers and spread to other parts of the body through the blood stream and lymph nodes.
- Non-Invasive Breast Cancer
Non-invasive breast cancer occurs when cancerous cells remain in a particular location of the breast without spreading to the surrounding tissue, lobules or ducts. However, Non-invasive cancer can eventually develop into invasive breast cancer.
Other less common types of breast cancer include
- Inflammatory breast cancer
- Medullary carcinoma
- Triple-negative breast cancer
- Adenoid cystic carcinoma
- Mucinous carcinoma
Source – Wikimedia Commons
Causes of Breast Cancer
The cause of breast cancer is not yet fully understood making it difficult to say why one woman may develop breast cancer and the another may not. But however, there are several risk factors that can increase the possibilities of breast cancer. Here are the key breast cancer factors to know:
Alcohol consumption: Taking more than 2 standard drinks per day increases the risk of developing a breast cancer.
Family history: The chances of developing breast cancer increases, if close relatives have had breast cancer.
Contraceptive pills: The use of contraceptive pills increases the chances of developing breast cancer.
Being overweight: The level of risk increases for an individual that is obese or overweight to develop breast cancer.
Age: The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. Breast cancer is most common among women that are above 50 years.
Pregnancy history: Having no children or having a first child late i.e after 30 years increase the chances of developing breast cancer.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer have many symptoms but the early or first noticeable sign is usually a lump or area of thickened breast tissues. Note, most breast lumps are not cancerous, but it's advisable to see a doctor to it checked.
Here are some if the early signs or symptoms of breast cancer:
- Change in breast size or shape
- Nipple discharge or redness
- A lump in the breast or armpit
- A rash on or around the nipple
- A change in the skin such as puckering or dimpling
- An inverted nipple
Stages of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer are assigned a stage based on biopsy plus image scans and other findings from blood test. Knowing the stage of breast cancer helps the patient and the medical team make decisions about treatment.
The stages of breast cancer is from stage 0 - stage 4, now let's briefly explain these stages:
- Stage 0 breast cancer
It is earliest stage of cancer. At this stage the cancerous cells have not started spreading to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
Stage 1 breast cancer
Stage 1 breast cancer is an invasive cancer, i.e cancerous cells have started invading the breast, but has not spread outside the breast.
Stage 2 breast cancer
At stage 2 breast cancer, the cancerous calls have started growing but only in the breast.
Stage 3 breast cancer
A stage 3 breast cancer, the cancerous calls have spread to the lymph nodes but has not yet spread to other parts of the body.
Stage 4 breast cancer
At stage 4 breast cancer, the cancerous cells have spread to other parts of the body such the bones, the liver, brain or lungs. It is called Metastatic breast cancer.
Source - Wikimedia Commons
Treatment of Breast Cancer
Before you choose the right treatment method for breast cancer, we must first consider the following factors:
The stage and grade of the breast cancer
The age of the patient
The overall health of the patient
After considering the above factors, you can then choose the right treatment method for the breast cancer.
There are several methods to treat breast cancer but we are going to be looking at the best 3 methods which will be briefly explained and they are:
The surgery treatment of breast cancer is divided into 2 main types, which are:
Breast-conserving surgery: This type of breast cancer surgery treatment involves the removal of the cancerous lump and not all the breast tissues.
Mastectomy: This type of breast cancer surgery treatment involves the complete removal of all the breast tissue, including the nipple.
The radiotherapy treatment of breast cancer involves the use of controlled doses of radiation to kill cancerous cells. It is mostly carried out after surgery and chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancerous cells.
The chemotherapy treatment of breast cancer involves using anti-cancer medication to kill cancerous cells. It is usually used after surgery to destroy any cancerous cells that have not been removed and also before surgery, to shrink a large tumor.
Other treatment methods for breast cancer includes:
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted therapy
- Gene therapy
Prevention of Breast Cancer
There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, but there are steps you can take to lower your risk and they are:
Limit alcohol consumption: Limit your intake to a maximum of one standard alcoholic drink a day, by doing this you are lowering your risk of getting breast cancer.
Control your weight: If being obese or overweight increases your risk of getting breast cancer, then try your best to control your weight to lower your risk.
Breastfeed: The more you breastfeed, the lower your risk of getting breast cancer.
Avoid contraceptive pills: Avoidance of contraceptive pills lower your chances of getting breast cancer.
Healthy diet: Following a healthy diet such as taking plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables will help to lower the risk of breast cancer.