Health Desk – Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and the second leading cause of death among women after lung cancer. Breast cancer is defined as abnormal cell growth lining the breast lobules or ducts. These cells proliferate uncontrollably and have the potential to spread to other parts of the body. Breast cancer can affect both men and women, although men are less likely to develop it.
It is usually defined by the word “C”; A word that is a cause of concern for all. Breast cancer is a big problem for women. The mortality rate is increasing due to late detection of breast cancer cases. Much has to be done to spread awareness in most of the developed and developing countries.
Mutations in the gene cause uncontrolled growth of mammary cells, so that no population or breed can survive. Worldwide statistics shown by the World Health Organization on breast cancer cases state that it is the most common form of cancer in women. Countries in Africa and the Middle East had lower rates of cases than in North America and Europe; however, survival rates vary.
Unfortunately it needs to be noted that although Africa and the Middle East have low rates of cases, survival rates are low compared to other parts of the world. Early detection and lack of awareness have been seen as the main reasons for reducing the survival rate. The problem is made more difficult with rising rates in developing countries.
Healthcare providers and physicians are trusted to raise awareness about breast cancer. The month of October is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” and we at Apollo Hospitals believe it is our responsibility to do our bit to spread this message.
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the uncontrolled growth of breast cells. Usually by entering the lobules and milk ducts, they invade healthy cells and spread to other parts of the body. In some cases, breast cancer can also affect other tissues of the breast.
What are the causes of breast cancer?
The exact causes of breast cancer are unknown, but the major risk factors are known. Nonetheless, most women considered to be at high risk for breast cancer do not develop it, and many do without any known risk factors. Risk factors for breast cancer include the following:
- Older age
- History of cancer or benign (non-cancerous) breast disease
- Inheritance of mutations in BRCA2, BRCA1 genes and increased risk of breast cancer
- Dense breast tissue
- Women who do not carry a full-term pregnancy or have their first pregnancy after the age of 30 have a higher risk of breast cancer.
- A woman who has had breast cancer once has a higher risk of getting cancer again.
- Reproductive history, resulting in increased estrogen exposure. Taking hormone therapy for symptoms of menopause. Radiation treatment to the breast or chest.
What are the risk factors for breast cancer?
There are several recognized risk factors for breast cancer in women.
- Family history.
- Mutations in genes such as BRCA1, BRCA2 and P53.
- Long-term exposure to endogenous estrogen.
- Premature first menstruation.
- Late menopause
- Contraceptive pill.
- Hormone replacement therapy.
Other lifestyle risk factors include alcohol use, physical inactivity, obesity, and short duration of breastfeeding.
Breast cancer is classified into stages 0, IA, IB, IIA, IIB, IIIA, IIIB, IIIC, and stage IV. Each stage represents the spread of cancer, with the last stage representing metastasis to other parts of the body. The final stage is very dangerous and the chances of survival are slim.
It is very important for women to know the early signs and symptoms of breast cancer so that the survival rate can be increased and cancer can be avoided completely.
The following are five warning signs that may indicate breast cancer that no one should ignore.
1. Lump or wart in breast-
This is one of the most common symptoms seen in cases of breast cancer. A lump in the breast should be examined, even if the lump is tender.
2. Swelling of the entire breast or any part-
Swelling of any kind in any part or all of the breast is a problem. While this can also be due to an infection or a condition such as pregnancy, it is important to check whether there are other symptoms such as skin irritation and/or breast engorgement. Self-breast examination will help to check for any abnormal changes. If this happens, women should contact the doctor immediately.
3. Changes in the skin of the breast can also be a sign of breast cancer. Stop:
- Burning/redness of the skin.
- Thickening of the skin.
- Indentation in the breast tissue.
- Changes in skin texture
4. Change in nipple
Any unusual discharge from the nipple should not be ignored. Also, inverted nipples can also be a symptom of breast cancer. If there is pain in the nipple, then it should also be treated.
5. Lumps in the underarms:
If there is a lump in the underarms then it is more likely to be related to the breasts. Breast tissue extends to the underarms. In addition, breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm.
Reducing women’s risk factors includes lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking and drinking alcohol, eating a diet rich in vegetables, fish and low-fat products, as well as having regular mammograms.
How is breast cancer diagnosed?
If there are symptoms of breast cancer or if there is a possibility of cancer, the doctor may recommend some of the following tests to the female patient or male patient to confirm breast cancer:-
Mammogram – A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. For many women, mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat and before it can be felt or causes symptoms. Getting regular mammograms can lower your risk of dying from breast cancer. At this time, mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer for most women.
Breast MRI – Breast MRI uses magnets and radio waves to take pictures of the breast. MRI is used along with mammograms to screen women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer. Because breast MRIs can appear abnormal even when cancer is not present, they are not used for women at average risk. Apart from this, you can also do your own investigation. Being familiar with how your breasts look and feel can help you notice symptoms such as lumps, pain or changes in shape. These may include changes found during a breast self-exam. You should report any changes to your doctor.
Breast ultrasound – A machine that uses sound waves to create a picture of the inside of the breast, called a sonogram.
Biopsy – This is a test that removes tissue or fluid from the breast to look at and test under a microscope. There are several types of biopsy (eg, fine-needle aspiration, core biopsy or open biopsy).
Positron emission mammography (PEM) – This is a newer imaging test of the breast that is similar to a PET scan. Sugar attached to a radioactive particle is injected into the bloodstream to detect cancer cells.
Optical imaging test – This test shines light into the breast and then measures the light that returns to or passes through the tissue. This technique does not use radiation and does not require breast compression. Apart from this, breast MRI and mammogram can also be used for examination. New types of tests are now being developed for breast imaging. Some of these, such as breast tomosynthesis (3D mammography), are already in use in some places.
How is breast cancer treated?
Breast cancer is treated in many ways. It depends on the type of breast cancer and how far it has spread. People with breast cancer often receive more than one type of treatment.
Surgery – An operation where the cancerous tissue is removed by the doctors.
Chemotherapy – Using special drugs to shrink or kill cancer cells. Medicines can be pills you take or medicines given into your veins, or sometimes both.
Hormone therapy – In this therapy, cancer cells stop getting the hormones that cause cancer to grow.
Biological therapy – Works with your body’s immune system to help fight cancer cells or control side effects from other cancer treatments.
Radiation therapy – High-energy rays (similar to X-rays) are used to kill cancer cells.
Which doctors treat breast cancer?
Breast surgeon or surgical oncologist: A doctor who uses surgery to treat breast cancer.
Radiation oncologist: A doctor who uses radiation to treat cancer.
Medical oncologist: A doctor who uses chemotherapy and other drugs to treat cancer.
Plastic surgeon: A doctor who specializes in reconstructing or repairing body parts.
Ways to prevent breast cancer-
Self-exam of your breasts is important. Women should be aware of how their breasts generally look and feel. Consult a doctor if you notice any changes. It is recommended that women over the age of 40 have a mammogram. Mammography is a simple radiographic technique for detecting irregularities in breast tissue. Green vegetables and fruits in the diet can help you maintain a healthy weight. New mothers are advised to breastfeed their baby for at least one year. Do not smoke or consume alcohol in excess.
DOS and don’ts
Breast cancer develops when certain cells of the breast begin to grow abnormally. Self-breast examination can help you detect any changes in your breast. Self-examination is best done after 4-5 days of the menstrual cycle. Signs and symptoms include a lump, discharge from the nipple, changes in skin texture, and an inverted nipple.
What to do What not to do
- Maintain a healthy weight Eat sugary foods
- Eat organic meat, eggs and dairy products. Take fake hormones
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water daily Eat processed and junk food
- Exercise regularly Use cosmetic and personal care products containing Parabens
- If possible, plan pregnancy before the age of 35. Consumption of alcoholic beverages and smoking cigarettes.
- Breastfeed your baby instead of bottle-feeding. Eating foods high in saturated fat can increase cholesterol levels.
Breast cancer survival rates have increased due to early detection, advances in diagnosis, and treatment methods.
Note- This article has been written for educational purposes. If you see any of the above symptoms, immediately contact a qualified doctor. Delaying it can be fatal. Thank you.
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