Breast cancer is an invasive tumor that starts developing from breast tissue. This cancer type is more common in women. One in every eight women in the US is suffering from this disease. The risk of having it increases with age and weight gain.
Researchers are getting valuable support for research funding and breast cancer awareness. It has helped to make exceptional progress in screening and treatment of the disease. This advancement has significantly helped to improve the survival rate. Deaths from this cancer type are constantly decreasing. It has become possible due to early detection of disease, a new personable approach to treatment, and breast cancer awareness.
What is Breast Cancer?
Usually, cells in the body replicate when new cells are needed. Cancer develops as a result of mutations – a change in a DNA sequence. These changes occur in genes that regulate cell growth. As a result, cell division and multiplication happen in an uncontrolled way.
This type of cancer typically occurs in breast tissues. Similar to other cancers, it can enter and grow into the tissue surrounding the breast. This can also move into other body parts. Hence, a process called metastasis occurs in which new tumors can also develop.
Some of the most common types of breast cancer may include:
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
- Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
- Recurrent breast cancer
- Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC)
- Invasive lobular carcinoma
- Paget’s disease of the breast
Breast Cancer Symptoms
In the early stages, there are no significant symptoms. In most cases, a tumor may be too small to be observed. But the first sign of this disease is the presence of a new lump in the breast. It is crucial to understand that not all lumps are cancer.
Symptoms depend on the type of breast cancer a person is experiencing. Some of the most common signs that a person may have:
A change in the breast’s size or shape
- Peeling, scaling, or flaking of the skin on the breast
- Breast pain
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
- A lump or swelling under your arm
What Causes Breast Cancer?
According to researchers, hormonal, lifestyle, and environmental factors play a significant role in the development of this disease.
Specialists estimate that approximately 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are directly related to gene mutations passed through the family. Doctors may recommend blood tests if you have a strong family history of breast and other cancer types. These tests will assist in determining specific mutations in genes that are passing through your family.
Several factors increase the chances of having this cancer type. But possessing any of these does not mean that you will surely suffer from the disease. Some of the risk factors include:
- Drinking alcohol
- Having dense breast tissue
- Early menstruation
- A personal or family history
- Postmenopausal hormone therapy
Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Cancer specialists diagnose the disease by performing several tests. These tests involve:
- Physical examination
- Ultrasound testing
Breast Cancer Stages
It is divided into stages according to the size of the tumor and whether it has spread to other body parts or not.
Stage 0: It is also referred to as ductal in situ carcinoma (DCIS). In this stage, cells are confined within the ducts and do not penetrate the surrounding tissues.
Stage 1: The tumor is of the size of 2cm or less. Lymph nodes are not affected.
Stage 2: The tumor is usually between 2 and 5 centimeters (cm). At this stage, it has started to spread to nearby nodes.
Stage 3: The tumor’s size is up to 5cm and spreads to several lymph nodes.
Stage 4: In this stage, the cancer cells have spread to other body organs. These organs include the bones, liver, brain, or lungs.
After identifying the stage, the doctor will suggest a treatment option that best suits your condition.
Best Treatment Options for Breast Cancer
The doctor will suggest a treatment plan after determining the type and stage of cancer that the patient is experiencing. Some of the most common treatment options include:
A doctor will perform one of the following surgery types after carefully analyzing the patient’s condition.
- Sentinel node biopsy
- Axillary lymph node dissection
In radiation therapy, the tumor is targeted with controlled doses of radiation. It will help to kill the remaining cancerous cells. It is performed around a month after surgery.
Doctors may recommend cytotoxic chemotherapy drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be suggested before or after the surgery depending on the condition.
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