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Breast cancer is a malignancy (abnormal cells) arising in the mammary glands. It affects both men and women, although it is far more common in women. It is that type of cancer that develops from the breast tissue. The first sign of breast cancer often is a breast lump or an abnormal mammogram. Breast cancer stages range from early, curable breast cancer to metastatic breast cancer, with a variety of breast cancer treatments. Male breast cancer is not uncommon and must be taken seriously.
Breast cancer can be described as invasive or in situ. Invasive breast cancers are tumors that have spread beyond the ducts or lobules of the breast and have begun to invade normal tissues. In situ breast cancers – Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS) or Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS) — are considered to be noninvasive forms of breast cancer. In these conditions, abnormalities in the cells have caused proliferation of atypical cells, but these cells have not spread beyond the ducts or lobules of the breast.
Worldwide, breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in women. Breast cancer comprises 22.9% of invasive cancers in women and 16 percent of all female cancers. In 2012, it comprised 25.2% of cancers diagnosed in women, making it the most common female cancer.
1) Lifestyle –
- Smoking tobacco, cigarette, hookah or any other harmful smoking products increases the risk from 35% to 50%.
- Use of oral contraceptives and development of premenopausal breast cancer.
2) Diet – alcohol intake, high fat diet and obesity.
4) Medical conditions – Breast changes like atypical ductal hyperplasia and lobular carcinoma in situ, found in benign breast conditions.
- Most common symptom is a mass or painless lump in the breast or armpit that is hard, irregular in shape and usually painless.
- Nipple discharge
- Redness or nipple retraction (inward turning)
- Changes in the skin of the breast (such as dimpling or an orange-peel appearance), and size and shape changes or swelling of part of the breast.
- Symptoms of breast cancer in men include a lump in the breast, nipple pain and tenderness, fluid from the nipple, inversion or retraction of the nipple, and sores around the nipple. Enlargement of both breasts in males is typically not due to cancer but due to hormonal or other factors.
Most types of breast cancer are easy to diagnose by microscopic analysis of a sample – or biopsy – of the affected area of the breast. There are, however, rarer types of breast cancer that require specialized lab exams.
Together, physical examination of the breasts, mammography, and FNAC can be used to diagnose breast cancer with a good degree of accuracy. Other options for biopsy include a core biopsy or vacuum-assisted breast biopsy.
Breast self examination is an option for women starting in their 20s. Women should report any breast changes to their health-care professional.
- Surgery – Surgery involves the physical removal of the tumor, typically along with some of the surrounding tissue. It’s of three types:
- Hormone blocking therapy
Monoclonal antibodies–Trastuzumab a monoclonal antibody to HER2 (a cell receptor that is especially active in some breast cancer cells), has improved the 5-year disease free survival of stage 1–3 HER2-positive breast cancers to about 87 percent (overall survival 95 percent).
Breast cancer may not cause its sign and symptom until the disease has spread significantly, which is one reason why screening mammograms are essential. Symptoms of breast cancers are similar in younger, premenopausal women and in older women (postmenopausal or over about 50 years of age). Breast cancer tends to spread through the lymphatic system to lymph nodes. Lymph nodes under the arm can be affected (causing swelling of the armpit) as can be lymph nodes around the collarbone. These areas can present with swellings or nodes even before the tumor in the breast is palpable.
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