Before moving to breast cancer, let us first get a brief description of cancer. Normal cells in the body follow a properly designed path of growth, division, and death. Apoptosis is the name given to naturally programmed cell death and when this process breaks down its results as cancer.
When this process of formation and death of cell breaks down in the breast, then it forms a lump causing change in breast shape, dimpling of the skin, fluid coming from the nipple, or a red scaly patch of skin. And this is where breast cancer may happen.
Although, it is so important to mark that all lumps in the breast can not be breast cancer. They may be benign. Most commonly it begins in the duct (carries milk to nipples) called ductal cancer. Another one is lobular cancer.
How breast cancer spreads:
It can happen at any part of the breast and can spread to any other part of the body as well. Blood and lymph system work as a transporter. They carry cancer cells to other parts of the body. The more the cancer cell travels through blood or lymph, the more the risk of cancer in another part of body increase.
Sign and symptoms:
Not only breast cancer but one must know signs and symptoms of every possible diseases and disorder. As early as one can detect a disease or a disorder it increases the possibility of being successfully treated.
In breast cancer 80% chances are one first will feel a lump or change in shape of the breast. Lump in the armpit can also indicate breast cancer. Other than lump, following are the signs –
- thickening of breast tissue
- the difference in shape and size of breasts
- a slight change in position of the nipple
- skin puckering or dimpling, change in shape of the nipple or becoming inverted
More symptoms are:
- a rash on or around a nipple
- discharge from the nipple
- constant pain in part of the breast or armpit
- and swelling beneath the armpit or around the collarbone.
Another reported symptom complex of breast cancer is Paget’s disease of the breast this include, eczema, such as redness, discoloration, or mild flaking of the nipple skin.
When breast cancer spreads to another organ, then this is called metastatic breast cancer. And symptoms of this depends on metastatic. Mostly it happens in liver, bone, lung and brain. And common symptoms include bone or joint pains, jaundice or neurological symptoms, Unexplained weight loss can occasionally signal breast cancer. These symptoms are called non-specific, meaning they could be manifestations of many other illnesses.
A risk factor is any attribute or exposure that increases the likelihood of developing a disease or injury. For cancer of breast it includes:
- Age: risk of getting cancer of breast increases with older age. However, it tends to be more aggressive in younger people.
- Sex: females are more likely to have cancer of breast than man. According to an estimation, if all women lived to age 95, about one in eight would be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point during their lives.
- Heredity: BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are mostly responsible for familial breast cancer. In 5% cases, there is a strong inherited risk factor.
- Dietary factor: fat intake, excess alcohol, low level of vitamin D.
It does not only include to cure the cancer sufferer but also to possibly prolong their life it can not be cured. Some most common treatments are:
- Surgery: it is to remove the tumor and some surrounding tissues also. Standard surgery includes Mastectomy (removal of the whole breast), quadrant ectomy (removal of one-quarter of the breast), Lumpectomy (Removal of a small part of the breast).
- Hormone blocking therapy: some breast cancer requires estrogen for growing. So medical treatment can either block receptor or can block the production of estrogen.
- Chemotherapy: it is used mostly when cancer reaches in the 2-4 stage.
- Radiation: few cancer cells can escape during surgery so to destroy they radiotherapy is used after surgery.
- Over 508,000 women died in 2011 due to cancer of the breast (Global Health Estimates, WHO 2013).
- Survival rates vary greatly worldwide, ranging from 80% or over in North America, around 60% in middle-income countries and below 40% in low-income countries.
- About 40,610 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2017 from it.