What is breast cancer ?
Breast tissue is where breast cancer usually develops. It typically manifests as a tumor. Breast tumors come in three different varieties.
Benign : Breast tissue can generate benign tumors most of the time.
In situ : These growths are malignant. The breast duct or lobule is where the malignancy is located. Treatment for this kind of breast cancer almost invariably results in recovery.
Invasive : The most dangerous form of breast cancer is this one. It occurs when malignant tumors have migrated to other bodily regions.
The second most frequent malignancy in women is breast cancer (after skin cancer). The good news is that over the past several years, the death rate from breast cancer has decreased. This is probably due to the early detection of more cancers. Treatment is most beneficial at this point. Regular mammograms can aid in the early detection of breast cancer.
Symptoms of breast cancer :
Breast cancer symptoms may include:
- A lump in the breast
- Change in size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin of the breast
- Nipple turned inward toward the breast
- Scaly, red, or swollen skin on the breast, nipple, or areola (dark area of skin around the nipple
- Discharge from the nipple
What causes breast cancer ?
What specifically causes breast cancer is unknown. There are some risk factors that appear to raise your likelihood of contracting the illness. About 10% of breast cancer instances are thought to be inherited (run in the family). You frequently acquired a gene from your parents that has modified in several of these circumstances (changed from its normal form). Breast cancer is more likely to develop in those who have this gene mutation.
Everybody possesses the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Normally, these genes aid in limiting the growth of cancerous tumors. However, occasionally a person inherits a defective BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene from their family. The likelihood of this person developing breast cancer rises. Ovarian cancer has also been connected to mutations in these genes.
There are additional altered genes that could increase a person’s risk of developing breast cancer. Some of these genes are known to scientists. They are attempting to locate others.
An indication that the mutant variant of BRCA1 or BRCA2 may run in your family is the presence of breast cancer in two or more first-degree relatives. Your parents, siblings, and kids are considered first-degree relatives. A first-degree cousin who developed breast cancer before the age of 50 is another warning indication.
Do all people with breast cancer in their families carry these faulty genes?
There is a low likelihood of inheriting breast cancer. Even if a member of your family has the illness, this is still true. Numerous individuals have developed breast cancer without having mutations BRCA1 or BRCA2. Anyone who has had breast cancer in their first degree relatives is at higher risk. However, the inherited form of breast cancer is uncommon.
Discuss your family history with your doctor. He or she will inquire as to your relationship to any breast cancer survivors in your family. How old your relatives were when they were diagnosed with breast cancer will also be a question your doctor will ask.
Should I get tested to see whether I’m a breast cancer gene carrier?
If you’re unsure about whether a gene test is right for you, talk to your doctor. He or she might also go over the advantages and disadvantages of taking the exam. It might be beneficial to speak with a genetic counselor.
Consider your reaction if the test findings revealed that you are more likely to develop breast cancer. Some people are curious as to which of the mutant genes they possess. Instead of asking, knowing it helps them deal with the danger of breast cancer. They can examine early indications of cancer more carefully with the help of their doctors. However, some people may rather remain in the dark about their aberrant gene. They believe that handling it would be too difficult. Discuss your feelings with your doctor.
How is breast cancer diagnosed?
Visit your doctor as soon as possible if you discover a lump or other change in your breast. He or she will examine you physically. They will enquire about your medical background and any breast cancer cases in your family. They will feel your breasts and the area under your arms carefully for lumps.
Your doctor might ask for a mammogram if they discover anything unusual. It is a specific X-ray of your breasts called a mammography. Two plates will press against your breast. Your breast will stretch out as a result, allowing for a better X-ray image. The whole procedure typically takes 20 minutes.
Your doctor can suggest additional tests if the mammography reveals anything. These consist of:
- Ultrasound – high-energy sound waves bounce off organs and tissues to create a picture
- MRI– uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make detailed pictures
- Bloodwork – blood samples are checked for signs of disease
- Biopsy – cells or tissues are removed from the breast and looked at under a microscope. This helps find cancer cells
Different types of biopsies are used to check for breast cancer. These consist of:
- Excisional – an entire lump of tissue is removed
- Incisional – part of a lump or a sample of tissue is removed
- Core – a wide needle removes tissue
- Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) – a thin needle removes tissue or fluid
Your doctor will perform additional tests if cancer cells are discovered in a biopsy. This will enable him or her to ascertain the potential effectiveness of various treatments as well as the potential rate of growth and spread of the malignancy.
Is it possible to prevent or avoid breast cancer ?
You can take steps to lower your risk of developing breast cancer. Even in high-risk women, lifestyle adjustments have been demonstrated to reduce risk. These modifications include:
- Not smoking
- Limiting alcohol
- consuming a balanced diet
- maintaining a healthy weight.
- doing regular exercise
- Whenever you can, breastfeed your children.
- Hormone treatment restrictions
- Whenever possible, avoid screening tests unless medically essential.
Breast cancer cannot always be prevented, but it can be detected early. Your chances of a complete and quick recovery rise as a result. Breast self-examinations do not appear to be effective in preventing breast cancer. Regular mammograms are the greatest method to detect it early.
The best method for detecting breast cancer early is a mammography. Up to two years before it develops large enough to feel, it can spot an aberrant area. All women 50 years of age and older are advised to undergo a mammogram every two years by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Your doctor may recommend more frequent mammograms if you have breast cancer risk factors. Additionally, he or she might urge you to begin using them at a younger age .
Although painful, mammograms are quick procedures. Modern technology is being developed, which could make the experience better. It might be less unpleasant if you have your mammogram just after your period. Your breasts might not be as sensitive right now.
You have the highest chance of detecting cancer as soon as possible by carrying out these actions. Early detection of breast cancer results in considerably simpler and more efficient therapy.
Breast cancer treatment :
Breast cancer can be treated in a variety of ways. Your doctor might suggest a variety of therapies. The best treatment for one person might not be the best course of action for you. Your doctor will base his or her decision on a number of factors, including:
- Your general health
- The stage of the cancer
- Whether the tumor has hormone receptors
- The size of the tumor
- If you have gone through menopause
Available treatments include:
- Lumpectomy – The tumor and a small amount of tissue around it is removed during surgery. Surgery is the most common treatment for breast cancer.
- Mastectomy – If the cancer is widespread in the breast, all breast tissue is removed. This is called a mastectomy. If the cancer has spread to the underarm lymph nodes, the whole breast and most or all lymph nodes are removed. This is called a modified radical mastectomy.
- Radiation therapy – High-energy rays are used to kill cancer cells. It may be used after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that are still there.
- Hormone therapy – Lab tests could show that your breast cancer cells have hormone receptors. If they do, hormone therapy can prevent the cancer cells from using the natural hormones they need to grow.
- Chemotherapy – Powerful drugs are used to kill cancer cells. They are given through an IV (directly into the vein) or in pill form. Chemotherapy can cause unpleasant side effects. These include weakness, tiredness, and hair loss.
- Targeted therapy – Lab tests could show that your breast cancer cells have too much of a protein called HER2. If they do, you can receive targeted therapies. These block the action of the extra HER2 protein and stop growth. They can be given in an IV or as a pill.