Some surprising facts regarding Breast Cancer
- In the year 2019, around 268600 new cases have been diagnosed for invasive breast cancer, while that of non-invasive breast cancer noted is 62930.
- Around 62% of the cases are diagnosed during the localized stage, for which the survival rate for 5 years is 99%.
- The total number of women that would die due to breast cancer in 2019 in 41860 in the U.S., and that of men is around 500.
- Even men suffer from breast cancer, but the ratio is 1 in 1000.
- Breast cancer is among the common cancers in America apart from skin cancer.
- One out of eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer, as per the National Cancer Institute.
- One of the major reasons for having breast cancer is aging. Breast cancer is found women having the age of 55 or older.
- Some other factors leading to breast cancer include menopause, hormonal issues, increasing rate of obesity, and changes in the patterns of reproduction.
- Women having gene mutations of BRCA1 or BRCA2 are likely to get diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age in both breasts.
Breast Cancer – An Introduction
When it comes to various reasons leading to death in women, Breast cancer ranks second. Yes, breast cancer captures a ratio of around 15% among all the cancer patients diagnosed, while in terms of cancer death, it stands around 7% every year.
But what actually is breast cancer? If you are also stuck here and looking for possible answers regarding breast cancer, you have landed on the right page. Let’s understand this health issue and all the topics related to breast cancer.
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What is Breast Cancer?
Cancer is a health issue that occurs when mutations occur in the genes which are responsible for the regulation of cell growth. The mutations are responsible for the division and multiplication of the cells in a hysterical way.
Breast is made with various different types of tissues which include the lobes, lobules, glands, and the ducts which are responsible for producing milk and carrying it to the nipple. And breast cancer is a situation that takes place in the cells of the breast. Mostly, the cancer is formed either in the ducts of the lobules. Apart from this, cancer can also develop in the fibrous connective tissue or the fatty tissue inside the breast. Later, the cancer cells also start spreading over other healthy tissues of the breast which can travel to the lymph nodes, situated beneath the arms. It is the lymph nodes that help the cancer cells in traveling to other body parts.
What are the symptoms of Breast Cancer?
Surprisingly, breast cancer doesn’t show any symptoms in the initial phase. The tumors in the initial stage are too small that they cannot also be felt. However, they can be seen during the mammogram tests. If one feels the tumor, the initial sign is basically a new lump that wasn’t observed before. But one more point, all the lumps are not cancerous.
There are various symptoms that are caused due to different breast cancers. Some of the common symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Pain in the breast
- Lump in the breast
- Thickening of the tissues which is different than other tissues surrounding it
- Red skin covering the entire breast
- Swelling on certain parts of the breast or entire breast
- Discharge from the nipple other than milk
- Discharge of blood like substance from the nipple
- Flaking, scaling, or peeling of the skin on the breast or even the nipple
- Sudden change in the breast shape or size
- Inverted nipple
- Changes in the skin appearance of the breasts
- Swelling or lump under the arm
If any of the above symptoms are observed it is not necessary that you are suffering from breast cancer. Sometimes, the pain in the breast or a lump can be due to a benign cyst. Hence, if any of the symptoms are observed, make sure you book an appointment with your doctor and get your breasts examined.
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What are the causes of Breast Cancer?
According to the doctors, breast cancer is a situation that attacks when some of the cells of the breasts start to grow in an abnormal state. The cancerous cells grow more rapidly compared to the normal healthy cells and continuously form mass or lumps. The cells can also spread through the breast to the lymph nodes or to other body parts.
Cancer mostly initiates from the cells situated in the ducts that are producing milk. Another area from where it can initiate is the glandular tissues which are also known as lobules or any other tissue of the breast. Some other causes of breast cancer include hormonal issues, environmental factors, lifestyle, etc. which increases the risk of developing breast cancer.
What are the different types of Breast cancer?
There are many people who wouldn’t be aware of the different types of breast cancers. However, all the types can be divided into two main categories that are invasive breast cancer and noninvasive breast cancer. The invasive type of cancer spreads from the breast ducts to other breast parts, while the noninvasive type doesn’t spread from the main tissue of the original tissue.
Both the categories come with some breast cancer types which includes :
This is a rare breast cancer type that is basically formed in the blood and lymph vessels lining. The lymph vessel in the body is responsible for gathering the viruses, bacteria, and other waste products from the body in the immune system and disposing of them. Angiosarcoma basically occurs in body parts like breast, neck, and head. It can also go deeper inside the tissues like the heart and the liver. Some treatments of angiosarcoma are radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery.
2. Ductal Carcinoma in Situ
Shortly termed as DCIS or Situ, this cancer occurs in the milk duct due to some abnormal cells in the breast. This is considered to be an early stage of breast cancer and is noninvasive too. This means the cancer cells don’t spread apart from the milk duct and have minimum chances of getting converted into invasive. The issue can be spotted when a mammogram is carried out for investigating the lump in the breast. Some of the treatments carried out for DCIS include surgery or radiation therapy.
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3. Inflammatory breast cancer
This is among the rare type of breast cancers which develops hastily. Cancer leads the breast to be tender, swollen, and red. This kind of cancer takes place when the cells of cancer block the lymphatic vessels of the skin that cover the breast area. In inflammatory breast cancer, cancer develops from the origin point to the surrounding tissues along with the lymph nodes. The condition can easily be muddled with a breast infection and can be treated with proper medical attention.
4. Invasive Lobular Carcinoma
Invasive Lobular Carcinoma basically takes place in the glands that are responsible for producing milk called lobules. In this type of cancer, the cancer cells are broken out from their origin place, the lobules and can also spread to the nodes of the lymph along with other body parts. Cancer can be diagnosed through mammograms, ultrasound, MRI, and biopsy. Some of the treatments to Invasive Lobular Carcinoma include surgery, hormonal therapy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
5. Lobular Carcinoma in Situ
Lobular Carcinoma in Situ is one of the unusual conditions when the abnormal cells are formed in the lobules located in the breasts. But surprisingly, LCIS is not a cancer type. But if anyone is diagnosed with the issues, the chances of having breast cancer increases. LCIS cannot be detected in the mammogram test but can be discovered at the time of breast biopsy which is carried out on the suspicion of having a lump in the breast or any abnormal results of a mammogram. As LCIS increases the chances of developing breast cancer, the treatment of this is particular medications for reducing the possibilities of breast cancer.
6. Male Breast Cancer
This is again a rare type of cancer that is formed in the men’s breast tissues. The issue is widely found affecting men of older age; however, it can occur at any age too. The symptoms are quite similar to those experienced by women. Men who are diagnosed with breast cancer have a good chance of curing if diagnosed at an early stage. The treatment basically includes a surgery carried out for removing the tissue of the breast. Other treatments for male breast cancer include radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
7. Paget’s Disease of the Breast
This is a rare type of breast cancer found in women. The disease initiates from the nipples on the breast and then extends to the areola, the dark circle on the skin surrounding the nipple. Again, the disease doesn’t have any resemblance to the Paget’s disease-related with the bone. This kind of cancer is widely observed in women after the age of 50. In this type of cancer, the breast comes with the underlying ductal breast that is in its original place or as invasive breast cancer.
8. Recurrent Breast Cancer
As the name suggests, this kind of cancer knocks back your door after once treated initially. No doubt, the treatment carried out initially is carried out for eliminating every cancer cell, some might have escaped during the treatment and survived. The recurrent breast cancer can occur again after months or even years after the initial treatment. It can come back in the original or same place or may spread to some other body area. The treatment of cancer includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, etc.
8. Metastatic Breast Cancer
Metastatic Breast cancer is an advanced stage of cancer. It is also known as the 4th stage breast cancer which initiates from the breast to the other body parts like the liver, lungs, and bones. On detection, the doctors would provide you with a proper treatment plan that would help in reducing the growth of cancer as well as the tumor.
These are some of the breast cancer types. For getting the right treatment, it is hence, important to know which kind of breast cancer one is suffering from.
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What are the different stages of breast cancer?
The stages of breast cancer basically depend on how much the tumor has spread in the body as well as the size of the tumor or even tumors. The cancers that are large in size or have spread on nearby organs and tissues are generally at a higher stage of cancer, while the small tumors still at a single place in the breast are at the initial stage. For determining the stage of breast cancer, here is what the doctors focus on:
- Is the cancer invasive or noninvasive?
- What is the size of the tumor?
- Are the lymph nodes involved or not?
- Has the cancer spread on other tissues or organs?
Based on the answers to the above questions, here are the 5 stages of breast cancer.
1. Stage 0 Breast Cancer
This stage is also known as the DCIS stage. The cells of cancer in this stage remain restricted to the breast ducts and the nearby tissues are still not affected with cancer.
2. Stage 1 Breast Cancer
This stage is further divided into Stage 1A and Stage 1B. Stage 1A mentions a primary tumor of around 2cms or even less while the lymph nodes remain unaffected with it. In Stage 1B, the cancer is found spread near the lymph nodes, which means, there is no breast tumor or a tumor that is smaller than around 2cms.
3. Stage 2 Breast Cancer
Similar to stage 1, Stage 2 is also divided into two sections. In Stage 2A, the size of the tumor is smaller than around 2cms, but it has already started spreading to around 1 to 3 lymph nodes. On the other hand, the tumor might not have spread but, the size has increased from 2 to 5cms. In Stage 2B, the size of the tumor is around 2 to 5cms and it has spread to around 1 to 3 axillary lymph nodes, or the tumor can be even larger than 5cms but not started spreading to any of the lymph nodes.
4. Stage 3 Breast Cancer
Stage 3 cancer is further divided into three different parts. In Stage 3A, cancer has spread to around 4 to 9 axillary lymph nodes. It might have also enlarged the mammary lymph nodes internally, while the initial tumor (the primary tumor) can be of any size. In Stage 3B, the tumor has occupied the walls of the chest, the skin or even around 9 lymph nodes. Stage 3C is an advanced stage among the three in which the cancer is already active in 10 axillary lymph nodes or even more which can be around the collarbone or the nodes in the internal mammary.
5. Stage 4 Breast Cancer
Lastly, in Stage 4 Breast Cancer, the tumor comes with any size while the cancerous cells have already spread to the nearby lymph nodes or any other distant organs of the body. This stage is also considered to be the most advanced stage in breast cancer.
No matter, in whatever stage the patient is diagnosed with, the testing carried out by the doctors would come with an impact on the treatment for sure.
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What is the differential diagnosis for Breast Cancer?
The doctors generally look for diagnosing breast cancer when any woman approaches them with any initial symptom or after an abnormal routine screening. There are various procedures and tests which can help in confirming a diagnosis.
1. Breast Exam
In this test, the doctor examines the breasts of the patient for any lumps or any other symptoms related to breast cancer. During the examination, the patient is asked to stand or sit keeping their arms in various positions like on the sides, above the head, etc.
This is similar to X-ray reports which are carried out by the doctors in the initial stage of breast cancer screening. The test provides doctors with images that help them in detecting any kind of abnormalities or lumps. This is also considered to be a suspicious report as the lumps discovered in the reports may or may not be cancerous.
This is a test that is carried out through sound waves which helps the doctor in differentiating between the cyst filled with fluid and a solid mass. A clear picture of the tissues deep inside is obtained from the breast which is quite helpful.
4. Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Another type of imaging test, Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a combination of various images of the breast which helps in determining any kind of abnormalities or even cancer. Also known as MRI, it is highly recommended as a follow-up test after ultrasound or mammogram. The test is considered to be a screening tool by the doctors for those patients who are at high risk of developing breast cancer.
A biopsy is a test that is carried out to extract the tissue sample, which is later sent to the laboratory for further analysis. The tests are helpful in determining if the cells are cancerous or not. Again, if the cells are cancerous, the type of cancer is also determined through the test along with its development. The doctors can also determine if the cancer is sensitive to the hormone or not. The staging of the cancer is also possible through a biopsy to know the size of the tumor, the area it has spread on, and whether it is noninvasive or invasive.
All the tests come with particular importance in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
What are the various treatments of Breast Cancer?
The doctors are sure to work on various diagnoses or reports that would help in learning about various facts regarding the tumor the patient is having. It is essential for the doctor to know the size of the cancerous tumor, the grade, and the stage too. After all, these are determined, the doctors would discuss the various treatments that can be carried out for fighting cancer. No doubt, surgery is the widely opted solution for breast cancer in women, there are still other treatments which include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy.
Here are some details regarding the treatments of Breast Cancer.
The surgery options include lumpectomy, mastectomy, sentinel node biopsy, axillary lymph node dissection, and contralateral prophylactic mastectomy.
In a lumpectomy, the tumor is removed along with the surrounding tissues and the remaining breast is left complete.
In Mastectomy, the entire breast is removed. While in double Mastectomy, both the breasts are removed.
Sentinel node biopsy is a surgery in which the particular lymph nodes are removed that receive drainage from the cancerous tumor. The removed nodes are tested, and if they are not cancerous, no further surgery is required.
In axillary lymph node dissection, if the lymph node removed contains cancerous cells, a further biopsy is carried out and the lymph nodes are removed.
Lastly, in Contralateral prophylactic mastectomy even if one of the breasts is infected with cancerous cells, the other one is also removed to reduce the chances of getting cancer again.
2. Radiation Therapy
In this therapy, beams with high power radiation are used to target and then kill the cancer cells. Most of the radiation therapies are carried out using beam radiation. The technique is used in the external body areas. The advanced level of this treatment eliminates the cancer cells from the inner body too. This kind of radiation therapy is known as brachytherapy in which the surgeons use radioactive seeds and place them inside beside the tumors. The seeds live in the body for a short time period and destroy the cancer cells in that period.
Chemotherapy includes the usage of drugs for the treatment for destroying the cancerous cells. Chemotherapy is certainly carried out with other surgeries and treatments. Where some patients are provided with chemotherapy before the surgery, to some it is given after the surgery. When given before the surgery, it is given with the aim of shrinking the tumor after which the surgery will not be offensive. Chemotherapy comes with certain side effects hence; it is important to talk to your doctor while thinking to start with the therapy.
4. Hormone Therapy
If breast cancer is hormone-sensitive, the doctor would suggest going for hormone therapy. Two female hormones named progesterone and estrogen, are responsible for stimulating the growth of tumors leading to breast cancer. The therapy blocks the production of the hormones in the body or by even blocking the receptors of the hormones on the cancerous cells. This would slow down the growth of breast cancer.
There are certain breast cancers the treatment of which can be carried out through particular medications by attacking the mutations or abnormalities in the cells having cancer. Hence, depending on the stage, size, and other factors, the treatments are recommended by the doctors.
What are the risk factors of breast cancer?
Similar to other diseases, there are certain risk factors that can increase the chances of having breast cancer. However, having any of these issues doesn’t mean you are suffering from breast cancer. Some of the risk factors include:
- The risk of having breast cancer increases as a woman ages. Most of the women having breast cancer are found with an age over 55.
- Drinking alcohol in access also increases the chances of developing breast cancer.
- For the woman having breast tissues that are dense increases the chances of having breast cancer as it makes mammogram reports hard to learn.
- White women are more likely to have breast cancer compared to white men by 100 times, while the ration with black women and men is 70 times.
- Women having gene mutations BRCA1 and BRCA2 come with increased risk of having breast cancer compared to women who don’t have those gene mutations.
- Women who have had early menstruation before the age of 12 are likely to suffer from breast cancer.
- Women who have their first child after the age of 35 have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
- Women who have taken or are taking postmenopausal estrogen medications or progesterone medications for dealing with the signs of menopause symptoms come with an increased risk of breast cancer.
- If your mother, sister, daughter, grandmother, etc. have had breast cancer, there are increased chances you may also suffer from breast cancer as it is an inherited disease too.
- Women who fail to start menopause till or after the age of 55, are more likely to face the health issue.
- Women who have never been pregnant or have failed to carry pregnancy completely are likely to have breast cancer.
- If anyone of the breasts has suffered from breast cancer, the chances of reoccurrence increase.
How can you prevent breast cancer?
No doubt, the risk factors of breast cancer cannot be controlled completely, there are still certain ways that can help in preventing breast cancer according to the doctors. The list includes:
1. Changes in lifestyle
Making certain healthy changes in the lifestyle can help in reducing the chances of developing breast cancer. Like obese women are more likely to develop breast cancer. So, look on a healthy diet, exercise daily, reduce the intake of alcohol, quit smoking, etc. are some of the essential ways to reduce the risk.
2. Regular screening of breast cancer
To avoid the risk of breast cancer, regular checkups are essential. Make sure you go for regular mammogram reports. For women in the age group of 40 to 49, mammograms are not recommended, however, it is essential to discuss with the doctor regarding the same. Women with an age group of 50 to 74 should go for a mammogram at least once in a year. Again, women with an age group of 75 and more are not recommended for mammograms.
3. Preemptive treatment
There are women who are likely to have breast cancer due to heredity reasons. If any of the parents is found having gene mutation BRCA1 or BRCA2 the child comes with a higher risk of having breast cancer. In this case, it is recommended to immediately talk to your doctor and ask for prophylactic treatment.
Fortunately, these days both men and women are aware of the various issues related to breast cancer. As a result, people are learning about the risks, symptoms, etc. and are working on various ways to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer. Yet, women are likely advised to go for self-examination of their breast at least once in a month to check on any early signs. Following a healthy routine, and keeping track of some of the health issues can also be helpful in diagnosing breast cancer at an early stage to avoid serious conditions and treatments.
So, how much aware are you regarding breast cancer? Share your views and suggestions with us today!