When the cells in the breast tissues start growing abnormally and into huge numbers then there is the possibility of breast cancer. Breast cancer can also stem from abnormal growth in the ducts and lobules. Symptoms, indications, and treatment will vary for different types of cancer. If diagnosed and treated effectively at an early stage the symptoms and ill effects of this problem can be set in abeyance.
Prevalence of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer seen in women. Most cancers start in the ducts and some types are named invasive ductal carcinoma. It is also the second most significant reason for death from cancer in women, the first being lung cancer. If a woman is aged between 20 and 39, it makes sense to get a breast examination done every 36 months by a professional health caregiver in order to contain the illness, if it occurs, in the initial stages.
Causes of Breast Cancer
1. General: Gender is the biggest bias for breast cancer as it occurs mostly in women. Age also is an important risk factor. The older a woman is the more the chances of being affected by cancer. While a 30-year old woman is at a 0.35% risk to be affected by breast cancer in the next 10 years, a 60-year old woman is at a 3.3%risk for the same disease. Studies show that breast cancer is more prevalent among fair-skinned women than in Afro-American women in the US.
2. Other risk factors:
- A woman who already has been treated for cancer in one breast has a significantly higher chance of being affected by cancer in the other breast, or in another region of the affected breast
- Genetic factors: When there is a history of cancer in the family
- Hormonal factors: Hormones play an important role in deciding breast cancer risk. For instance, a woman who started periods early and/or has menopause at a later age is at a higher risk
- Child factor: Having a child before reaching the age of 30 reduces the risk of breast cancer while not having children increases the risk
- Lifestyle: Indulging in a fat-rich diet that leads to obesity; regular intake of alcohol is both high-risk factors for the disease. Meanwhile, exercise reduces the risk
- Environment: Women who have taken radiation treatment in the upper region of the body are at an increased risk for breast cancer
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
- There are no symptoms in the initial stages
- Mammography showing a lump in the breast region
- A persistent lump above the collar bone area, or in the armpit
- Inversion of nipple
- Discernible changes in the skin on the breast
- Discharge from the breast
- Painlessness, hardening of the breast, and difficulty in its movement
- Change in size of the breast
Most of these symptoms may be indications of other less harmful health problems. However, they should not go undiagnosed.
Treatment Of Breast Cancer
There are various factors to be considered before opting for the most effective treatment against breast cancer. They are
- The age of the patient
- Whether the patient has menstrual periods
- The symptoms and indications of cancer. Treatment depends on the type of breast cancer that the patient has. The different types of breast cancer are
- Invasive ductal carcinoma (Prevalence: 7 out of 10 breast cancers are of this type)
- Invasive lobular carcinoma (when cancer starts in the lobules of the breast; prevalence: 1/10)
- Medullary carcinoma (prevalence 3/100)
- Paget’s disease: This involves cancer of the areola and nipple (Prevalence: 3/100)
- Inflammatory breast cancer: (Prevalence: 1/100)
- Mucinous (Prevalence: 3/100)
- Tubular (Prevalence 1/100)
- Papillary (Prevalence:1/100)
- Adenocystic (Prevalence 4/1000)
- Carcinosarcoma (Prevalence: 1/1000)
Generally, there are four types of treatment for breast cancer. They are surgery, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
There are two types of surgery for breast cancer:
Lumpectomy: This is a surgical procedure that removes the tumor
Mastectomy: The removal of the whole of the breast that is affected
Hormone Therapy: This involves medication and treatment of a patient in a manner to improve the hormonal functioning or the removal of the entire organ that releases hormones that increase the risk and symptoms of cancer.
Chemotherapy: Treating the patient with those drugs that destroy the cancer cells
Radiation: When X-ray radiation of high potency is directed on the cancer cells to destroy them
It is however heartening to know that death due to breast cancer is on the decline thanks to the increased awareness among the people and the sophisticated methods of diagnosis that allow for early intervention and treatment.