Breast Cancer is the most common of all cancers in women worldwide, with approximately one million new cases diagnosed annually. Breast cancer begins in cells called epithelial cells, which are found in many parts of your body.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, causing nearly 4% of all new cancers in women each year. Breast cancer can affect any woman, regardless of age and genetic make-up. While there is no known cause for breast cancer, it ranks among the top ten deadliest cancers when diagnosed with stage III or stage IV. Over 200 million women worldwide are at risk for developing breast cancer, with about half of all cases occurring in developing countries.
Breast cancer risk factors
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women, and it is often linked to other diseases. Breast cancer risk factors include age, family history of breast cancer and certain genetic mutations.
Age increases your chance of getting breast cancer. The older you are, the greater your risk. Women older than 50 have an 80% chance of developing breast cancer compared with those under 40 who have a 20% chance of developing breast cancer.
Family history has been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women. Having a sister or mother who has had breast cancer raises your risk for developing the disease as well.
Certain genetic mutations increase your chances of developing breast cancer as well as other diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Breast cancer symptoms
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women. It is also the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, with more than 1.7 million new cases diagnosed worldwide each year. It usually develops from the cells lining the milk ducts (milk glands) or the tissue around them. Breast cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow and multiply out of control, forming a mass known as a tumor.
The first sign of breast cancer is usually a lump that may be painless or painful. A mass in one breast may feel different from a lump in another area of your body. You should evaluate any unusual lumps or changes in your breasts by talking with your doctor, who can perform a mammogram if needed.
Other signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Nipple discharge (called nipple discharge) or crusting on or around the nipple that persists after breastfeeding has stopped
- Redness and swelling of one or both breasts
- Painful nipples
- Discharge from skin around the nipple that is clear to thick yellowish white, gray or green-colored
A change in the breast that is not caused by menopause. The most common symptom of breast cancer is a lump or mass in the breast. Other symptoms may include nipple discharge, pain or tenderness in the arm, back or chest.
A lump that may be found on examination of the breast. This is more likely to be cancer if it feels like a solid mass and has changed over time.
Possible signs of breast cancer include: a new lump in the breast, changes to any part of the nipple or breast that were pre-existing, pain when you press on your breast, redness around the areola (the darker skin around the nipple), dimpling and puckering of the skin around your nipple, a hard mass, an uneven swelling and thickening of one area of your breast that does not move with squeezing it (called fibroadenoma).
Types of breast cancer
Breast cancer can be divided into three types:
Invasive breast cancer: Breast cancer that has spread from the breast to other parts of the body (metastatic) or has spread to distant parts of the body (distant metastasis).
Inflammatory breast cancer: Breast cancer that has spread to lymph nodes in the chest or armpit area (regional lymph node involvement).
Mixed type: Breast cancer that contains both noninfiltrating and infiltrating cells.
Screening for breast cancer
Breast cancer screening is the process of looking for, and removing, cancerous (malignant) cells from a breast. Breast cancer screening may be performed by a trained health professional. Breasts are normal structures that have many different functions in the body. A woman’s breasts are responsible for producing milk and nourishing her baby. Breast cancer affects one in eight women worldwide. Screening tests such as mammograms help detect breast cancer early when it’s more likely to be cured by surgery or radiation therapy.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. Screening for breast cancer can help reduce deaths from this disease by detecting it at an early stage, when treatment is more effective and the risk of having a recurrence or dying from it is lower.
Screening procedures include:
Mammography (mammo) is an x-ray test that can detect small tumors in the breast. Mammograms are typically performed every year after menopause, unless there are signs of breast cancer (such as a lump). Mammograms may be used alone, or as part of a combination test called a digital mammogram. Digital mammograms use computer technology to make images of the breast easier to interpret than traditional film mammograms. They may be better at detecting smaller tumors and cancers that are hidden in dense tissue, but they do not provide information about tumors that are too small to see without additional tests.
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing uses blood or urine samples to check for abnormal levels of PSA in men between 50 and 69 years old who have no symptoms of prostate cancer but who have been given a digital rectal exam by their doctor within the last two years or three PSA tests over 10 years ago
If you suspect you or someone you love has breast cancer, or would like to understand more about the condition, consult with a doctor. Conventional treatment options are now well established and include surgical treatment, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and radiation therapy. Each of these conventional treatments target the growth of cancer cells and/or the spread of cancer cells to other organs. They can be expensive, require prolonged periods for recovery, and may have serious side effects. However, there are many alternative treatment options that are easily integrated into a patient’s lifestyle.