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Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women during their lives. It is the common invasive cancer in women around the world. After lung cancer, the second main cause of cancer death among women.
However, advanced screening and treatment have significantly increased the survival rate in last two decades. Awareness of the symptoms, proper treatment at right time is still crucial to avoid any misfortune.
What is Breast Cancer?
Women breast is consist of connective tissue, fat, lobules and glands that produce milk for breastfeeding. Breast cancer most commonly develops in the cells from the lining of milk ducts and the lobules that supply the ducts with the milk.
- Cancer develops from the ducts is known as Ductal carcinoma.
- While that develops from lobules known as Lobular carcinoma.
Moreover, there are more than 18 other sub-type of cancer. Some cancer develops from the pre-invasive lesions. The excessive growth of body cells causes cancer. Cells multiply uncontrollably in cancer.
The first sign of symptoms of breast cancer is typically a lump that feels different from the rest of the tissue.
Other symptoms include:
- Change in shape and size of the breast.
- Change in shape of nipple – inverted, puckering or dimpling.
- A rash around nipple or discharge possibly contains blood.
- Swelling and pain in the breast that does not go with monthly cycle.
- Pitted or red skin of the breast.
- Peeling and scaling skin around the breast.
Risk Factor Of Breast Cancer
Risk factor for breast cancer is higher in women than in men. Old age increases the risk of breast cancer in women. Other potential risk factors are related to genetics, lack of childbearing, lack of breastfeeding, obesity and a higher level of estrogen hormone.
Some risk factors are avoidable like consumption of alcohol and smoking. while other like biological sex and age are certainly unavoidable.
Consumption of alcohol, more than 3 drinks a day can increase the risk of breast cancer by 1.5 percent. Similarly, smoking tobacco for a long time increases the risk by 35-50%. Lack of exercise increases the risk. Though a regular exercise does not completely eradicate the risk.
If your close relatives have or have had diagnosed with breast cancer then there is a higher chance of you developing breast cancer. women who carry BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are at higher risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer both.
3. Exposure to Radiation
If you work in a laboratory or in any way exposed to carcinogenic components can put you at higher risk of breast cancer. Going under radiation treatment for any other type of cancer can later in life increases the risk of breast cancer.
4. History and Anatomy
Risk of breast cancer is higher in the women who have a history of breast cancer. It can reoccur. And it is more likely to develop in higher density breast tissue.
A number of dietary factors have been linked to the risk for breast cancer. Food with high-fat content, cholesterol is linked to breast cancer, according to a study. The deficiency of iodine may also play a role.
Most type of breast cancer is easy to diagnose. But there is another type of breast cancer that require specialised lab test.
The physician will check the breast for possible lumps and symptoms. If there is any lump, mammography is performed to approximate the likelihood that a lump is cancer.
Mammography, X-Ray image helps to find any abnormalities or lumps. It is not the most accurate practice to diagnose cancer. In X-Ray image dense tissue appears like a lump that creates un-necessary worry in a patient. Further diagnosis is required to confirm cancer.
Ultrasound Scan is used to differentiate between a solid mass or a fluid-filled cyst.
MRI scan is performed to track the growth of the cancer cells. A patient is injected with the dye to perform the scan.
All these examinations can be used together to diagnose cancer with a good degree of accuracy.
A section of the lump is surgically removed for laboratory analysis. The test reveals the type of cancer and whether it is hormone sensitive. A biopsy helps in diagnosing size of cancer how far it has spread. It helps in determining the best treatment possible and how soon a patient can recover from cancer.
Breast cancer treatment depends solely on the stage of cancer, age, sensitivity to the hormones and the type of cancer patient has.
It involves physical removal of a tumour along with the surrounding tissue to avoid any relapse in future. Standard surgery involves complete removal of the breast, one-quarter removal of the breast or removal of a small part.
Later a plastic surgery can be performed to maintain the aesthetic appearance of the treated site.
2. Radiation Therapy
Radiotherapy is given to the patient after the surgery to remove any microscopic tumour cells that have escaped the surgery. It reduces the occurrence of a tumour by 50-60%.
3. Hormone Therapy
Hormonal sensitive cancer requires estrogen to continue growing. They can be identified by the presence of the estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor on their surface. This estrogen receptor cancer can be treated with the drug that either blocks the receptor or stops the production of the estrogen.
Chemotherapy is used for the 2-3 stage breast cancer. Chemotherapy is a combination of medication that usually given for a period of 3-6 months. This works by destroying fast-growing cancer cells, either by damaging DNA upon replication or by another mechanism. In that process, it also damages the healthy cells.
Breast cancer awareness is the best possible way to avoid breast cancer. There is otherwise no sure way to prevent breast cancer. But some changes in lifestyle can help in reducing the chances:
- Eat healthily.
- Consume less to no alcohol.
- Do not smoke.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain your body weight.
- breast-feeding reduces the risk of breast cancer.
- A regular checkup is necessary for the women at higher risk i.e family history.
- Pay attention to any change in breast size, shape and appearance.
- Do not ignore any pain in breast or armpit.