Breast cancer is the one of the commonest malignancies afflicting women. In some parts it is the most common malignancy. It is currently estimated that one in 14 of all female children born will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
Following abnormalities in the breast anatomy are suggestive breast
Unusual swelling of all or one specific part of the breast
Continuous skin irritation or dimpling
Persisting pain in breast
Persisting nipple pain or inversion of nipple
Inflammation or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
An unusual discharge from the nipple other than breast milk
Lump in the underarm area
Breast Cancer Causes
Despite extensive investigation into the cause of breast cancer there
is still no known cause. However, a combination of environmental factors
and genetic mutations are thought to be responsible for this cancer. In
familial breast cancers, a molecular change in the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2
play a major role in the onset of the disease.
Breast Cancer Awareness : The Pink Ribbon
A pink ribbon is universally accepted as the emblem of breast cancer
awareness campaign. It denotes the struggle of the breast cancer
patients. It was in 1996, when the pink and the blue ribbon was first
designed to create awareness of the fact that "Men Get Breast
Breast Cancer Types
Breast cancer is mainly of two types:
Occurs in milk ducts
Occurs in the milk secreting breast lobules.
Categorically breast cancer can also be divided into following
In-Situ Breast Cancer
Cancer cells remains confined within their place of origin and do not attack surrounding breast tissue.
Invasive or Metastatic Breast Cancer
Cancer cells break free of their place of origin, and spread to different parts of the
Breast Cancer Stages
Like all cancer types, breast cancer also progresses through different stages. Breast
cancer stages are based on the size of the breast lump or tumor, whether
the cancer is in-situ type or malignant, and whether the cancer has
spread beyond the breast tissue.
Breast Cancer Treatment
In recent years, there has been an overwhelming explosion of
life-saving treatment advances against breast cancer. So, once breast
cancer is detected, one should go for the following breast cancer treatment
Surgery followed by Radiation
Adjuvant and Neoadjuvant Therapy for Breast Cancer
Hormonal Therapy - Aromatase Inhibitors
Complimentary and Holistic Medicines
Angiogenesis Inhibitors Therapy
What Are the Risk Factors for Breast Cancer?
The exact cause of breast cancer is not known and most likely involves
It is much more common in the western world.
Women are a hundred times more likely to have breast cancer as compared to men.
Breast cancer risk increases with age. 16% of women aged between 40-60 years have breast-related problems, and complain of breast lumps. In most of the cases, these breast lumps may carry a potential breast cancer risk.
A family history of breast cancer will increase the
risk of developing breast cancer in a woman by three to five times.
Recently, a breast cancer gene (BR CA 1) has been identified. If a woman
has this gene present in her chromosomes, there is an 85% chance of
developing either breast or ovarian cancer, or both in her lifetime.
It appears to be more common in women who did not bear children. It is also less common in women who have their first child at early age.Women who started their menstrual periods before age 12, those who delayed menopause until after age 55, and those who had their first pregnancy after age 30 have a mildly increased risk of developing breast cancer (less than two times the normal risk).
Fitness levels and life style related factors such as smoking are also
some of the most commonly known breast cancer risk factors that can be
Breast Cancer Prevention
Cancer prevention though a very ambiguous concept due to their
molecular cause of origin, can be achieved through small but effective
changes made to lifestyle:
Restricted alcohol consumption
Maintaining a healthy body weight
Inclusion of limited fat in diet
Avoiding unnecessary consumption of antibiotics
Reverting to organic food free of pesticides
Besides, long-tern hormone therapy may also undermine breast
cancer. But screening is by far the best breast
What Factors Have a Protective Effect?
Pregnancy and breast feeding have a protective effect in preventing
How is Breast Cancer Diagnosed?
The prognosis of breast cancer is closely related to the stage of
disease at the time of diagnosis, therefore screening for breast cancer
is extremely important. Numerous studies have confirmed that populations
which get screened for breast cancer yield patients having much smaller
tumors with much better prognosis. Currently, mammography and breast
examination serve as the foundation in screening for breast cancer.
Mammography is an x-ray examination of the breast. It has the ability to
detect a cancer in the breast when it is quite small, long before it may
be felt by breast examination. Eighty-five to 90% of all breast cancers
are detectable by mammography. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of breast
cancers are not visible on mammography, but can be felt on physical
examination of the breast.
The importance of Self Breast Examination
cannot be overstressed. A
percentage of breast cancers is not seen on mammography and it is
extremely important for a woman to perform Breast Self Examinations.
Currently, it is recommended that a woman should have a baseline
mammogram between the ages of 35 and 40 years. Between 40 and 50 years
of age mammograms are recommended every other year. After age 50 years,
yearly mammograms are recommended at womens health care centers.
Other Diagnostic Tests and Procedures
An ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to visualize structures inside the body. It is often used to distinguish between cysts and solid tumors in the breast. Fluid within cysts can be aspirated (withdrawn with a needle and syringe) for analysis in the
It is a procedure which involves removal of a piece of tissue to analyze under the microscope. Biopsy still remains the only confirmatory test for breast cancer. If an area of the breast is suspicious for a cancer, a biopsy is usually performed to confirm or
deny the diagnosis.