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.
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:
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:
Risk Factors You Can Change:
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 (DCIS) is a non-invasive breast cancer where abnormal cells have been contained in the lining of the breast milk duct.
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 means that the cells in the tumour are negative for progesterone, estrogen, and HER2/neu receptors.
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 is cancer that has spread beyond the breast, sometimes into the lungs, bones, or brain.
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.
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