Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. It can be a devastating discovery for the patient. Sadly, no one knows the exact causes of breast cancer. Doctors seldom know why one woman develops breast cancer and another doesn’t, and most women who have breast cancer will never be able to pinpoint an exact cause. What is certain is that breast cancer is always caused by damage to a cell’s DNA.
Facts About Breast Cancer
- One in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
- Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
- Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women.
- Breast cancer can often relapse after complete cure, and is called recurrence.
- Although breast cancer is less common in men, a small percent of men suffer from breast cancer.
A tumour is a mass of abnormal tissue. There are two types of tumours: those that are non-cancerous, or ‘benign’, and those that are cancerous, which are ‘malignant’.
1. Benign Tumours
When a tumour is diagnosed as benign, doctors will usually leave it alone rather than remove it. Occasionally they may continue to grow, pressing on organs and causing pain or other problems. In these situations, the tumour is removed, allowing pain or complications to subside.
2. Malignant tumours
Malignant tumours are cancerous and aggressive because they invade and damage surrounding tissue. When a tumour is suspected to be malignant, the doctor will perform a biopsy to determine the severity or aggressiveness of the tumour.
3. Metastatic cancer
Metastatic cancer is when cancer cells of a malignant tumour spread to other parts of the body, usually through the lymph system, and form a secondary tumour.
When dealing with breast cancer, tumours are often graded based on a scale of one to three indicating how aggressive the cancerous cells are:
- Low grade (1) – Well-differentiated.
- Intermediate grade (2) – Moderately differentiated.
- High grade (3) – Poorly differentiated.
Breast cancer tumour grades are not to be confused with cancer stages. Tumour grades help to determine the best treatment plan, and in general, a lower grade tumour means a better chance for a full recovery. However, there are individuals who make full recoveries at every stage and with even the highest grades of aggressive tumours.
Here are some of the risk factors of breast cancer.
Risk Factors You Cannot Change:
- Getting older. The risk for breast cancer increases with age; most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50.
- Genetic mutations. Inherited changes (mutations) to certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Women who have inherited these genetic changes are at a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
- Reproductive history. Early menstrual periods before age 12 and starting menopause after age 55 expose women to hormones longer, raising their risk of getting breast cancer.
- Having dense breasts. Dense breasts have more connective tissue than fatty tissue, which can sometimes make it hard to see tumours on a mammogram. Women with dense breasts are more likely to get breast cancer.
- Personal history of breast cancer or certain non-cancerous breast diseases. Women who have had breast cancer are more likely to get breast cancer a second time. Some non-cancerous breast diseases such as atypical hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ are associated with a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
- Family history of breast cancer. A woman’s risk for breast cancer is higher if she has a mother, sister, or daughter (first-degree relative) or multiple family members on either her mother’s or father’s side of the family who have had breast cancer.
- Previous treatment using radiation therapy. Women who had radiation therapy to the chest or breasts before age 30 have a higher risk of getting breast cancer later in life.
Risk Factors You Can Change:
- Not being physically active. Women who are not physically active have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
- Being overweight or obese after menopause. Older women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than those at a normal weight.
- Taking hormones. Some forms of hormone replacement therapy (those that include both estrogen and progesterone) taken during menopause can raise the risk for breast cancer when taken for more than five years. Certain oral contraceptives (birth control pills) also have been found to raise breast cancer risk.
- Reproductive history. Having the first pregnancy after age 30, not breastfeeding, and never having a full-term pregnancy can raise breast cancer risk.
- Drinking alcohol. Studies show that a woman’s risk for breast cancer increases with the more alcohol she drinks.
Types of breast cancer:
Breast cancer can begin in different areas of the breast — the ducts, the lobules, or in some cases, the tissue in between. In this section, you can learn about the different types of breast cancer, including non-invasive, invasive, and metastatic breast cancers, as well as the intrinsic or molecular subtypes of breast cancer. Here are some types:
Ductal Carcinoma In Situ
Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS) is a non-invasive breast cancer where abnormal cells have been contained in the lining of the breast milk duct.
Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
Invasive Ductal Carcinoma means that abnormal cells that originated in the lining of the breast milk duct have invaded surrounding tissue.
Triple Negative Breast Cancer
Triple negative breast cancer means that the cells in the tumour are negative for progesterone, estrogen, and HER2/neu receptors.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Inflammatory breast cancer is a less common form of breast cancer that may not develop a tumour and often affects the skin.
Metastatic Breast Cancer
Metastatic breast cancer is cancer that has spread beyond the breast, sometimes into the lungs, bones, or brain.
Breast Cancer During Pregnancy
Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer during pregnancy may face tremendous additional strain due to concern for the safety of the unborn child.
Less common types of breast cancer include Medullary Carcinoma, Tubular Carcinoma, and Mucinous Carcinoma.
Is anyone you know suffering from Breast cancer? Consult our team of specialists at the exclusive Breast Clinic at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital. Our experienced team provides accurate diagnosis with the best possible treatment options. Please find below website link: