Cancer is a disease characterized by the abnormal growth of cells. Often the first physical sign of cancer is the appearance of unusual lumps in your body, which is very common in breast cancer.
Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer among women. It affects women over 50 years old the most, and there are over 2.1 million women who get diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Unfortunately, this disease is responsible for most cancer-related death. That is why early detection is paramount to enhance the chances of survival.
Due to the fact that women living in developing countries lack proper medical care, breast cancer is more common among them. Moreover, this form of cancer is not commonly known as other forms. Hence, why campaigns and educating society about forms of cancer, specifically breast cancer, are crucial to increasing awareness among people.
Furthermore, recognizing signs and symptoms and learning to act upon them are also important. The sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner your treatment begins, making you chances of overcoming cancer much higher.
The Many Forms of Breast Cancer
The breast is composed of 3 parts: lobules (where milk is produced), ducts (milk transportation), and the connective tissue that holds everything together. Hence, the type of cancer is different depending on where it begins. For example:
- Invasive Ductal Carcinoma: Cancer cells grow outside the ducts and into another part of the breast tissue.
- Invasive Lobular Carcinoma: Begins in the lobules and spread to the surroundings of the breast.
- Paget’s Disease: Cancer grows within breast skin and areola. It is a fairly uncommon form of cancer, and it is often a consequence of the above two types.
- Inflammatory Breast Cancer: Causes the swelling and redness around breast skin. Like Paget’s Disease, it is a consequence of the other types of breast cancer.
Causes and Risk Factors
The medical community continuously researches to have a deeper understanding of breast cancer, which in comparison to other forms of cancer, we have little knowledge about.
However, recent studies suggest the following as the most common risk factors:
- Age: You have more chances of developing breast cancer as you grow old. 8 out of 10 women diagnosed with breast cancer are over 50 years old.
- Drinking and drugs: Women who use drugs and alcohol are three times more likely to develop breast cancer.
- Overweight: It causes hormonal changes that could lead to breast cancer. Also, women with overweight problems are likely to have eating disorders. The links between unhealthy diets and cancer are well documented.
- Family medical history: If you have a family member who suffered from some kind of cancer, you are more likely to develop breast cancer.
- Previous benign breast lump: If you have suffered from previous lump formation, you are more likely to develop breast cancer in the future.
But hey! Not being part of a risk group doesn’t mean that you are not at risk. Additionally, if you fall within one, or more of such groups, you must pay more attention to your health and lifestyle.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
Most early signs of breast cancer are almost unnoticeable. But scrutiny increases the possibility of discovering them. Be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
- A lump or thick tissue in the breast area. 90% of them are not cancerous, but it is not harmful to check them.
- Noticeable breast size changes without any reasonable reason.
- Lumps of swelling around the armpit.
- Change on nipple appearance.
- Irritation of the skin around the breast.
- Changes in the skin around the breast.
- Fluids discharging from the nipples.
How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed?
The best, and fastest, way to diagnose breast cancer is to keep having regular checkups, especially if you notice that something is wrong or different with your breast.
Your doctor may recommend the following tests to rule out or diagnose breast cancer:
- Biopsy: Your doctor will extract a sample of tissue for examination. It is the first procedure that your doctor will perform.
- Mammogram and breast ultrasound: Since women with less of 35 years have higher breast density, this procedure is not suitable for them. This procedure makes a blueprint of the internal structure of your breast.
- MRI: Works in the same way that ultrasound, but it uses magnetic waves instead of high-energy sound waves. It also provides a picture of the internal breast tissue.
Treatment and Prevention
The treatment for breast cancer depends on where it is located, and which stage it has reached. However, these are the most common tools used for treatment:
- Surgery: Depending on the tumor size, the affected breast could be partially extracted. But if the breast is severely affected, a mastectomy is necessary.
- Chemotherapy: Chemicals are used to purge the rest of the cancer cells. It can be used before or after surgery.
- Radiotherapy: Radiation is used to kill the remaining cancer cells. It is extremely necessary when cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
As we grow older, we become more prone to suffering various diseases. This is why we must maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as, controlling weight, avoiding saturated foods and at least attending screenings three times a year.
It is common for women with breast cancer to suffer from emotional distress during and after treatment. Cancer, is a battle physically, mentally and emotionally fought. Thus, we recommend joining support groups that aid people suffering from this disease and in need of positivity to continue their battle.
This October, give your breast a voice!