Breast Cancer Symptoms, Causes, Risks Factor and Diagnosis Tips
Created by Dr. Surbhi Saini Updated on Feb 19, 2019
Breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst women apart from skin cancer. Also it is the second most common cause of death in the world apart from lung cancer! Let us explore some common points about this disease that are worth keeping in mind for everyone, irrespective of gender -
Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
- The first symptom that generally comes io notice is a lump or thickened mass in breast tissue or even in armpit
- Pain in armpit or breast that doesn’t even change with monthly cycle
- Rashes around or on nipple
- Pitting or redness of the skin of breast appearing like skin of an orange
- Discharge from nipple that might even contain blood
- Sunken or inverted nipple
- Change in shape or size of the nipple
- Peeling, flaking, scaling of skin of breast
Not all lumps in breast are cancerous but if you notice one then it's better to get it examined.
Why Breast Cancer Happens?
Breast cancer occurs when breast tissue cells mutate and go on reproducing at abnormal rates. These abnormal cells usually cluster together and form a tumor. These cells can travel through blood stream or lymphatics to other parts of the body (metastasize) spreading infection to other organs as well.
Risk Factors Of Breast Cancer-
Age-Risk increases with an increase in age
Genetics And History-If a close relative or mother, have had cancer the risk is higher. Women who carry BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer or both because these genes can be inherited. Another gene associated is TP53
Dense Breast Tissue-It is also associated with high risk
Excessive Estrogen Exposure And Breast Feeding-Excessive extrogen exposure due to delayed start of mensus or late menopause causes a long period of estrogen exposure to breast tissue leading to formation of cancer tissue. Another reason can be some estrogen supplements that the person might be on. Breastfeeding over the age of 1 year has positive impact on reducing the risk of breast cancer
Body Weight-Women who are overweight after menopause are also at a higher risk
Alcohol Exposure-Studies show that women who drink more than 3 drinks per day are at 1.5 times higher risk
Hormon Treatments-Women receiving HRT or OCPs are at a higher risk
Breast Implants-Women having breast implants are at a higher risk of getting diagnosed at later stages
Breast Cancer Diagnosis Tips -
Physical Breast Examination-
It includes checking the breast for any lump in normal breast tissues or armpit.
It is just another type of X-ray in common terms specifically for diagnosing initial stages of breast cancer. It helps in producing images that help detect any lumps or abnormalities.
It helps in differentiating between solid mass or fluid-filled mass
It can involve injecting a dye to know the spread of cancerous cells
Biopsy - It is a procedure which involves removing the tissue surgically from the tumor and is sent for laboratory analysis. It is used to differentiate between types of cancer
Treatment Of Breast Cancer
It includes one of the following or an adjuvant of 2-3 options together depending on type, stage of cancer and patients' age, health and preferences
- Radiation therapy
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted drug therapy
With treatment, a woman at stage 0 or stage 1 has almost 100% chances of survival rate of 5 years. If diagnosis is made at stage 4, the survival rate of 5 years chances are left at around 22%. Regular screening and checks help in early diagnosis.
Breast Cancer Prevention -
There is no sure-shot prevention of breast cancer since a major role is played by genetic factors, which cannot be changed; however, the other risk factors can be significantly reduced by following these few things
- Avoid excess alcohol and sugar
- Eat a healthy diet
- Exercise enough
- Weight control and keep BMI within range
- Avoid having HRT after menopause if not otherwise necessary
- Regular check-ups and screenings
It is not only important for women to have knowledge about this disease, but also for men. One never knows how the knowledge attained might help in saving a life. Spread the word as much possible!
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