BREAST CANCER: Symptoms, Types, Prevention and Treatment
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer happens when cells that do not know how to shut off production of more cells begin to grow out of control in breast tissue.
The cells eventually replace normal breast tissue and travel to the lymph nodes through the lymph system. These cells eventually spread throughout the body including the liver, lungs, and brain.
Breast cancer is a common disease affecting one out of every 8 women in the course of their lifetime (American Cancer Society).
Although there are lots of factors that contribute to the onset of breast cancer, the risk of having it increases with age.
For example, a woman aged 50 has a 2.38 percent chance of having it over the next ten years, while a woman 60 years of age has a 3.56 percent chance of acquiring cancer over the next ten years. For women aged 70, they have a 3.82 percent chance of getting breast cancer in the next ten years (Source).
Breast cancer symptoms
Breast cancer has no symptoms when it is in its earliest stages like stage 0 breast cancers.
There is no sign and evidence of abnormal cells in stage 0 breast cancer as mentioned in this article by BreastCancer.org
This is why having a regular mammogram is so important. With mammogram, cancerous cells are detected using a special kind of breast x-ray that tells the difference between normal breast tissue and cancerous tissue (Source).
10 Signs you might have breast cancer:
Please, what listed here are not the “ultimate truth” on signs and symptoms of breast cancer.
What we have listed here may be caused by other things that are not cancer related.
It is best that you undergo checkups conducted by health care provider specializing in diagnosing this disease.
The possible symptoms include:
- Having a hard like marble beneath the skin of the breast.
- Feeling a lump in the breast, especially after menses.
- Armpit swelling
- Tenderness or pain in the breast
- The presence of a red breast that is painful and has an “orange-peel texture”
- An indentation of the nipple
- An indentation of breast tissue
- A change in the size, texture or temperature of the breast
- Itching of the breast
- Bloody, clear or other color of discharge from the breast
The cancer may spread to lymph nodes in your neck or underarms that you can feel a lump or some swellings in those areas. Once you have them, you should go have a checkup.
Types of breast cancer:
Breast cancers have different types. It can be located in different parts of the breast and can have different types of receptors on them; making them more or less sensitive to increased growth under the presence of female hormones.
- Ductal carcinoma
- Lobular carcinoma
Ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer. It is a type breast cancer forming in the milk ducts. Ductal carcinoma can stay within the ducts or can break away from the ducts and can be invasive.
Lobular carcinoma or simply called lobular cancer of the breast is formed in the part of the breast where the milk is produced. Like ductal breast cancer, it can break out of the lobules and invade the rest of the breast tissue. Connective tissue breast cancer is rarer. It occurs in the part of the breast that is the fatty tissue, blood vessel tissue, or muscle of the breast. These types of breast cancers are called sarcomas.
To learn more, read this article from Mayo Clinic.
Hormone receptors and breast cancer
Breast cancer can be classified according to the type of hormone receptors located on the breast cancer cells. The two main female hormones are estrogen and progesterone.
Doctors use these receptor types to tailor the treatment each type of breast cancer gets.
The hormone receptor status of a breast cancer can be one of these:
- Estrogen receptor positive. This might respond to anti-estrogen therapy.
- Progesterone receptor positive. This might respond to anti-progesterone therapy.
- Hormone receptor negative. This has no hormone receptors and is the most difficult to treat because it doesn’t slow in growth with medication8s that block estrogen and progesterone.
Treatments for breast cancer
Surgery or removal of tumor is common treatment for breast cancer. However, it is not always the case.
Cancer treatment is determined by the type, the stage and the situation of the person having cancer.
Overall health and personal preferences are also considered when choosing a treatment for breast cancer.
Here are the treatment plans according to American Cancer Society
Invasive breast cancer (stages I-IV)
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
Inflammatory breast cancer
Breast cancer during pregnancy
You must discuss the treatment plan with your doctor. Your doctor will discuss to you the different treatment options that suit your situation.
For detailed discussion of breast cancer treatment options, please visit this link: Breast CA treatment
Prevention of breast cancer
The best thing you can do to detect cancer at its earliest stages is to have a regular mammogram. The American Cancer Society now recommends annual mammograms starting at the age of 45 years(Source).
Women with strong family histories of breast cancer can have their mammogram screening earlier in life.
American Cancer Society recommends that the earlier the detection, the better. Detecting breast cancer early, when the tumor is small and has not spread out, has the highest chance of successful treatment.
Regular examination is highly recommended. The aim here is to detect the cancer before it shows some symptoms.
Aside from checkups, lifestyle plays a huge factor in decreasing and increasing the risk of having breast cancer.
These are some of the things that you can have control when you want to decrease the risk of acquiring this tumor.
- Alcohol consumption – limit yourself to less than 1 drink per day.
- Smoking – please do yourself a favor, not smoking is a gift to your body. Smoking increases the risk of cancer.
- Diet – consider eating cancer-fighting food like herb, organic foods, vegetable. Reduce intake of red meat, animal fats and protein.
- Stress level – mange your stress. Have time to relax and respect yourself. Avoid toxic situations that affect you not only mentally but physically.
- Weight control – Breast cancer is also strongly affected by obesity. Maintaining one’s weight through exercise and a healthy diet can reduce the risk of breast cancer in many women, regardless of age.