Breast Cancer : Symptoms, causes , diagnosis and management

Breast Cancer : Symptoms, causes , diagnosis and management

Cancer that forms in tissues of the breast is usually the ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple) and lobules (glands that make milk). It occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare. Breast cancer is the top cancer in women both in the developed and the developing world.

There are various forms of cancers  of such kind

Ductal Carcinomas: Cancer originating from ducts.
Lobular carcinomas: Cancer originating from lobules.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

The most noticeable symptoms are lump that feels different from the rest of the breast tissue. Other than a lump, there may include:

  • Thickening of breast one breast becoming larger or lower
  • Nipple changing position or shape or becoming inverted
  • Skin puckering or dimpling
  •  A rash on or around a nipple
  •  Discharge from nipple/s with constant pain in part of the breast or armpit
  • Swelling beneath the armpit or around the collarbone

Causes of Breast Cancer

The exact reason for the breast cancer is not known but risks factors associated with the disease are:

Age: The risk of developing cancer increases with age. It has been seen that breast cancer is most common in the women over 50 who have been through menopause.

Levels of estrogen: When the  body is exposed to high levels of estrogen. This may happen due to early start of periods and late menopause. Also not having children or having children at later age may also increase the  risk of developing breast cancer as body is exposure to estrogen is uninterrupted by pregnancy.

Family history: If there is a history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer in the family, there may be higher risk of developing breast cancer. Particular genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, can increase the risk of developing both breast and ovarian cancer. It is possible for these genes to be passed on from a parent to their child. Third gene (TP53) is also associated with increased risk of breast cancer.

Alcohol: The risk of developing breast cancer is also associated with the amount of alcohol one drinks.

Smoking: The risk of smoking is associated with breast cancer

Radiation: Certain medical procedures that use radiation, such as X-rays and CT scans, may slightly increase risk of developing breast cancer.

Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

Contact your physician: If there is any kind of symptoms like lump or change in shape or color of breast. Than you should contact your physician.

Imaging: Mammography and breast ultrasound scan are also used to diagnose the breast cancer. Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of the inside of your breasts. The image produced will show any lumps or abnormalities present in your breasts. Your doctor may also suggest a breast ultrasound if they need to know whether a lump in your breast is solid or contains liquid.

Microscopic analysis: A biopsy is generally done when mammograms and other imaging tests, or the physical exam finds a breast change (or abnormality) that is possibly cancer. A biopsy is the only way to tell if cancer is really present.

Management of Breast Cancer

The main treatments required for breast cancer are:

Surgery: Surgery involves physical removal of the tumor, typically along with some of the surrounding tissue.

Radiotherapy: Radiotherapy is given after surgery to the region of the tumor bed and regional lymph nodes, to destroy microscopic tumor cells that may have escaped surgery.

Chemotherapy: Generally given in stage 2 and 4 of disease, being particularly beneficial in estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) disease. They are given in combinations, usually for 3–6 months.

Prevention of Breast Cancer

WHO promotes breast cancer control within the context of national cancer control programmes and integrated to non-communicable disease prevention and control.

Regular exercise and healthy diet is recommended for all the women of all age groups.

Women who breastfeed their children are less likely to develop breast cancer than those who do not. The reasons are still not fully understood, but it could be due to the fact that women do not ovulate as regularly while they are breastfeeding and estrogen levels remain stable.

Breast self-Examination (BSE) is a routine examination that should be carried out at the same time each month to physically check for any lumps or other changes.

Point to note :

Early detection in order to improve breast cancer outcome and survival remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control.