Today breast cancer has been a reason behind many women deaths and little knowledge on this topic may lead to hazardous results. Every women especially should be aware about breast cancer and what are the symptoms of breast cancer. What is it? How it develops? What are it’s causes? Reason? What are the symptoms of Breast cancer? How can you prevent breast cancer? what is the treatment of breast cancer? These are few questions to which you should know answer to. Awareness is important to save yourself from this dangerous disease. If you have knowledge only then you can take steps to fight it, right?
So, let us start. Breast cancer is a type of cancer which develops from breast tissue itself. There are many signs of breast cancer for example: a lump in the breast, dimpling of the skin, fluid coming from the nipple, or a red scaly patch of skin. And if the disease has spread more than normal then there can be other signs also like shortness of breath, a change in breast shape, there may be bone pain, or yellow skin.
Risk factors of having breast cancer includes the following:
- A lack of physical exercise
- Drinking alcohol
- Hormone replacement theory during menopause
- Ionizing radiation
- Early age at first menstruation
- Having children late or not all
- Older age, or
- Family history.
The main risk factor about 5 to 10 percent is because of the genes inherited from a person parent’s, including BRCA1 and BRCA 2 among others. Breast cancer mostly develops in cells from the lining of milk ducts and the lobules that supply the ducts with milk. Cancer which develops with the ducts is known as Ductal carcinomas, and those who develops from lobules is known as lobular carcinomas. In addition there are more than eighteen sub – types of breast cancer. The diagnosis of breast cancer is confirmed by taking a biopsy of the concerning lump. After the diagnosis is made, further test are done to determine if the cancer has spread breast or not which treatment it may respond.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer
There are many early symptoms of breast cancer which only those who are aware of it can know. The first noticeable symptom of breast cancer is typically a lump that feels different from the rest of the breast tissue. As more than 80 percent of the cases come to light when a women feels a lump. The earliest sign of a breast cancer is detected by a mammogram, we are talking about the early stage. Sometimes lumps found in the lymph nodes located in the armpits can also indicate breast cancer.
Other early symptoms of breast cancer may include the thickening of some breast tissue than others, one breast becoming larger than the other, a nipple changing position or becoming inverted, discharge from nipples can also be a huge sign, constant pain in breast or armpits, swelling beneath the armpit or around collar bone, all of these are the early symptoms of breast cancer.
Feeling pain can be normal as long as it does not happen on a daily basis, or it can be sign of some other breast related health issue.
Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer are the following:
- It can feel like regular pain around your breasts.
- Itching can also happen.
- Swelling can also happen.
- Nipple inversion.
- Warmth and redness around breasts.
- As well as an orange – peel texture to the skin.
- As inflammatory breast cancer do not show any lumps and the diagnose of it can take time.
Risk factors can be divided into two categories:
- Modifiable risk factors: These are the things which you can work on such as you can limit your drinking habits.
- Fixed risk factors; Things which cannot be changed for ex: your age.
The primary and major risk for breast cancer are first, being a female and second, an individuals age. Other risks include genetics. Another are lack of child bearing and lack of breast feeding. So you have to take care of whether are you feeling any symptoms of breast cancer.
A person lifestyle is a very important thing how you live your life? Are you a health freak or a person who does not think about their health at all! What kind of treatment you give yourself. And is it good for your health or not? Smoking tobacco increases the risk of breast cancer. How much do you smoke and when you started to smoke all of this is also matter and is important to consider.
Those who smoke a lot or are a long term smoker the risk increases up to 35 to 50 percent. A total lack of physical exercise have been a reason in 10 percent cases. The risk do not vanishes with regular exercise but is decreased a bit. Hence, you should exercise on daily basis way better than doing none at all.
In a number of cases it has been seen that people who have unusual dietary habit are at a higher risk of getting breast cancer. Dietary factors include a high fat diet, high alcohol intake, and obesity related high cholesterol levels. Lack of iron intake can also be a main reason behind breast cancer. Other risk factor include radiation, and shift work.
In some minor cases genetics also play a role. Overall, however, genetic are a reason of breast cancer in 5 to 10 percent of cases. So, woman has to understand whether she is suffering from it or not from the symptoms of breast cancer.
How breast cancer is diagnosed?
Any disease remain as just a casual thing until known. Diagnosing a disease is as significant as fighting and getting rid of it. Most type of breast cancer are easy to diagnose by a microscopic analysis of a sample or a biopsy or the affected area of the breast. Also, as we told you earlier that there are many sub types and types of breast cancer which require specialized lab examination to diagnose it.
Following is a list of things or test available to diagnose breast cancer:
- Core biopsy.
- Vacuum- assisted breast biopsy
- Excisional biopsy
- All of these are sufficient to diagnose breast cancer but still if you have doubts even after test then a monthly health check up never hurt anybody.
How breast cancer is classified?
Breast cancer are classified by a grading systems. Some of the times, the symptoms of breast cancer show us that which type of breast cancer is the woman suffering from. Each of these can or do influences the prognosis and can affect it’s treatment response. Following is the description of breast cancer, here are the factors:
Histopathology: A breast cancer is generally classified into its histological appearances. Most breast cancer are derived or start from the epithelium lining the ducts or lobules, and these cancers are classified as ductal or lobular.
Grade: Grading compares or grade the appearance of the breast cancer till the appearance of normal breast tissue. Normal cells in an organ like the breast become differentiated meaning that they take on some sort of specific shapes and forms that reflection their self as a part of that organ. But cancerous cells lose that differentiation.
TNM system of staging
There are many ways to classify them but the most used way is the TNM system:
- T = T stands for the tumor size.
- N = N stands for Lymph Node status as to the number and location of the lymph nodes.
- M= Metastases it shows whether or not the cancer has spread entirely.
Stages of breast cancer
There are four stages of breast cancer. It is important to know that the stage depends on the tumour size or growth, lymph nodes and as well as the metastases. Here are some examples to make it easier for you to understand.
Stage 1 = A cancer with T1 tumor size ( less then 2 cm ), no lymph nodes with no metastases ( m ).
The highest stage of it’s diagnoses is the stage IV in which the size of the tumor does not matter. As its the cancer with metastases.
What happens is that the higher the stage of cancer, the more tough is to diagnose it.
How can you prevent breast cancer?
You can prevent any disease by doing little changes in your daily life, your health and eating habits. First of all, you need to know the symptoms of breast cancer. A disease so dangerous as breast cancer can also be prevented but with the following ways:
Change in life style
All women can prevent themselves fro getting breast cancer by maintaining a healthy eating habit, drinking less alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight, and being physically active and by doing breastfeeding. According to Wikipedia, these little modulations can decrease the risk if breast cancer in the following ways:
- It might prevent 38% of breast cancers in the US.
- 42% in the UK.
- 28% in Brazil.
- 20% in China.
The benefit of brisk walking which is a small change in daily routine has shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer in all age groups also including postmenopausal women. High level of physical activity reduces the risk of breast cancer by a large percentage i.e 14%.
High intake of citrus fruits also reduces the risk of breast cancer by 10% and high consumption of soy-based food also reduces the risk by 10%.
Do not smoke
If you do not smoke great but if you do then keep a hold on it and if it is difficult for you to get rid of this habit then try to limit the amount of it. As smoking in large amount may get you breast cancer and plus smoking is not all good for your overall health.
Pre- emptive surgery
Removal of both breast or the lump can certainely reduce the risk of getting breast cancer. If you know that your grandmother or even your mother or any of your relatives have had breast cancer then maintaining regular health check up is recommended.
Yes, eating the correct and right amount of medicines can reduce your risk of getting breast cancer. There are some selective estrogen receptor modulators which can reduce the risk of breast cancer but can increase the risk of endometrial cancer and thromboembolism. There is no guarantee related to it.
How can you manage breast cancer in different ways?
You can manage breast cancer by trying different things like screening, therapy, medications and radiation.
First, let’s talk about the surgery option.
Surgery includes the removal of the tumor but with some surrounding tissue. Some standard surgery includes:
- Mastectomy: In this surgery the whole breasts is removed.
- Quandranctectomy: In which one quarter of the breast is removed.
- Lumpectomy: In this small part of the breast is removed.
These are the three options you can opt for to get rid of the breast cancer.
After the removal of the tumor, if the patient desires or wants, breast reconstruction surgery which is type of plastic surgery, may be performed to improve the appearance of the breasts. This option is for the betterment of the patient. Some women put cloth to make their breast look even or prefer plain or flat chest.
There are main three types of therapy or groups of medication used for adjuvant breast cancer treatment = chemotherapy, hormone- blocking agents and monoclonal antibodies.
Hormone blocking therapy
You will be surprised to know but some breast cancer require estrogen to continue growing. And they can be easily identified as they have estrogen receptors and progesterone receptors on their surface. These ER + receptors can be treated with the drugs that either block the receptors which are tamoxifen, or can block the production of estrogen with an aromatase inhibitor.
The dose or usage of tamoxifen is recommended for ten years. And aromatase inhibitors should not be given to menopausal women with intact ovarian function.
Chemotherapy is used for patients in second to fourth stage. The chemotherapy is used for six months, sometimes a taxane drug, such as docetaxel, is added and the regime is known as “CAT”.
Radiation is given after the surgery to the area of the tumor and lymph nodes, in order to kill the microscopic tumor cells that may have escaped the surgery. Radiation therapy can be delivered as external beam therapy or as branch therapy. Conventionally, radio therapy happens after the surgery.
Prognosis is given for the probability of progression free survival or disease free survival. After fighting cancer a person can survive up to 20 years maximum, every patient survive different amount of time. Some survive six months or some one year. Prognosis is very important if you want to get rid of cancer permanently. As it can grow back without proper medications.
Prognostic factors can be seen reflecting in various factors and symptoms of breast cancer such as in the classification of the tumor size, grade, lymph nodes position, re-occurrence of the disease, the age and heath of the patient. The most common tool is the Nottingham prognostic index.
The cancer stage decides the prognosis effect. Following is a compilation of the various effects of prognosis:
- Stage one: Patients who are in their first stage have an excellent prognosis and are generally treated with lumpectomy and also sometimes radiation. Chemotherapy is not compulsory for stage one patient.
- Stage two and three: Stage two and three level patients with a poor prognosis are generally treated with surgery most commonly lumpectomy or mastectomy with or without lymph node removal.
- Stage four: Stage four patients generally face poor prognosis and then the cancer is managed by several measurements, such as surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and other targeted methods or ways.
All over the world, breast cancer is the most common and main type of cancer which women faces. Some women are not even able to know that they are suffering from breast cancer because they don’t even know the symptoms of breast cancer. It affects 12% of women all around the world according to Wikipedia. In 2008, breast cancer caused 458, 503 deaths worldwide. After, breast cancer Lung cancer is the second most cancer related deaths in women. Due to lung cancer all over the world 12% women died.
A pink ribbon is the most prominent symbol of breast cancer awareness. Pink ribbons are worn to honor those who have survived in fighting with cancer. Just like everything have some good and bad reviews. Pink ribbon also has some criticism as well as appreciation too. The most disturbing thing said about pink ribbon is that it reinforces gender stereotypes and objectify women and their breasts.
Breast cancer culture
Breast cancer culture or pink ribbon culture is a set of activities, attitudes, and values that surround and also shape in short present a picture of breast cancer to public. The main aim or goal of breast cancer culture is to maintain breast cancer’s dominance as the main women health issue.
Compared to other diseases breast cancer gets more attention then other types of cancer. But the reality is that more women die from heart disease or stroke.
So keep always updated about the symptoms of breast cancer and how to prevent and cure it.