Breast cancer has been one of the most common medical conditions that can have equal effects on both sexes. Early detection can help in controlling the disease but it can have lethal effects if neglected.
Causes of Breast Cancer
As the doctors state, abnormal growth of breast cells can lead to breast cancer. The speed of these cells’ division is much faster in comparison to the healthy ones and they continue getting accumulated and form a mass or a lump. Metastasize can help the cells to spread to the lymph nodes through the breasts or to other body parts.
The cancerous growths are often triggered at the duct cells of the milk-producing glands (invasive ductal carcinoma). It may also be triggered in the lobules – the glandular tissue cells (invasive lobular carcinoma) or any other breast tissue or cell.
Certain environmental, lifestyle and hormonal factors have been identified to be responsible for increasing the risks of breast cancer in an individual. Breast cancer has turned into one of the most common diseases with an increasing count of cases being reported across the globe on a yearly basis. Current researchers suggest that it is the resultant of the complex interaction of the surrounding environment with the genetic makeup of the individuals.
Inherited gene mutation can also be responsible and accounts to at least 5 to 10 % of the present cases of breast cancer in the world. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the most common types of mutated genes responsible for inherited breast cancers.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Not many symptoms can be expected during its initial stages. It may be tough to feel the tumor at early stages but a mammogram can serve the purpose. If the tumor in the breast grows big enough to be felt, individuals can feel the formation of a new lump. But it is not necessary for all lumps to be cancerous. The symptoms can vary depending on the type of cancer but a certain set of symptoms are common to all cases. Below mentioned are some of the most common symptoms of breast cancer:
- Thickening of the tissues or the formation of a lump in the breast region that has a difference from the tissues in the surrounding region
- Breast pain
- Reddishness all over the breast and pitted skin
- Partial or total swelling of breasts
- Bloody or other discharges through the nipple other than breast milk
- Scaling, flaking or peeling of skin, especially near the nipple
- Change in the size and shape of the breasts
- Lumps or swelling in the underarm regions
- Inverted nipples
- Changes in the skin appearance of the breasts
Having these symptoms does not necessarily mean one has breast cancer. Lumps or pains can be caused by cysts as well. The best way to get confirmed is to consult a doctor and opt for proper diagnosis.
Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
There are many examinations and tests that can be conducted to clarify the symptoms. Physical examination of the breast – either by self or professional doctors can be a way to get started. Depending on the situation, the doctor may recommend some diagnostic tests to be extra sure. The common tests include:
It is no doubt the best way to explore the breast conditions. A mammogram is nothing but an imaging test that is common for women to participate in on an annual basis. It is the best way to look for spots and tumors and depending on the results, the doctor can request further tests that may be relevant.
It is a technique that can create an image of the deep breast tissues by using high-frequency ultrasound waves. Ultrasound imaging is the best way to differentiate between benign cysts and tumors.
MRI and Biopsy
These are far advanced tests that your doctor may suggest depending upon his insights. These tests allow the doctor to derive more conclusive diagnosis on your condition and act accordingly.
Treatment of Breast Cancer
The treatment can widely vary and is dependent on a lot of factors such as the stage of cancer, its range of invasion and the size of the tumor. The most common treatments for breast cancer include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and hormone therapies.
Depending on the type of cancer, your doctor may choose lumpectomy, mastectomy, sentinel node biopsy, axillaries lymph node dissection or contralateral prophylactic mastectomy.
Radiation beams of high power can be used to destroy the cancer cells. Though it is an external treatment, modern medical progressions have allowed doctors to annihilate cancer cells from the interior as well.
Drug treatment is a common way to kill the cells of breast cancer. The main expectations of this treatment are to shrink the lumps and surgery can then be used to bring in a complete cure. It may come with a lot of side effects.
Some breast cancer types are hormone sensitive and hormone therapies can be an effective way to treat those cases. It involves blocking the production of estrogen and progesterone to pull a check on the speed of cancer growth.
Some medicines have been developed to fight the mutated, abnormal cells of breast cancer. Herceptin is a common medicine in the market that can help to prevent the spread of breast cancer.