Breast cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and spread to other body parts. According to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Statistics Centre, It can occur in men and women, but it’s most common among women, who comprise 80 percent of all breast cancer cases.
Cells are the small units that make up our bodies. They’re like tiny building blocks that allow us to grow and function properly—they also help mend wounds and fight off infections when we get sick or injured. To understand what causes breast cancer, you should first know what happens when healthy cells grow in your body.
Regarding breast tissue, each breast has an average of 150 million cells that multiply over time—this process is called “growth.” Healthy cells normally stop dividing when they reach their full size because no more nutrients are available within the breast tissue (this process is called “differentiation”).
However, sometimes this process doesn’t work well enough—and instead of stopping at healthy full size after differentiation takes place (known as terminal differentiation), some cells keep growing past their normal limits into an abnormal state called hyperplasia; if this often happens enough over time, then these mutated masses can fuse into nodules called hyperplastic lesions which are benign (noncancerous)
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer
- A lump in the breast.
- Breast pain.
- Skin changes in the breast, including dimpling and puckering of the skin on the breast, redness or scaling of the nipple, or inverted nipples.
- Discharge from the nipple (and not just blood when you are menstruating). The discharge may be bloody or watery; it may also be clear and odorless.
- A change in the shape of a breast that is not caused by weight gain or loss, by pregnancy or breastfeeding, or as a result of wearing an underwire bra all day long every day for many years. In other words: if your breasts have changed shape since puberty but have always looked like they do now—no problem! But if they’ve been perky until recently? That might indicate something more serious is going on inside your body!
Types of breast cancer
There are several types of breast cancer, including
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
- Invasive ductal carcinoma
- Invasive lobular carcinoma
- Invasive papillary carcinoma
The type of breast cancer will help to determine the best treatment options for you. The most common way to learn what type of cancer you have is with a biopsy, which removes tissue from your body and looks at it under a microscope. You can also get this information from your doctor by reading lab tests like cytology slides or blood work such as hormone receptor status and HER2 testing.
The common types of breast cancer are invasive ductal carcinoma, invasive lobular carcinoma, and invasive papillary carcinoma. Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a noninvasive breast cancer that rarely spreads to other body parts. Invasive ductal carcinoma is a common breast cancer in women under age 35 and over 70. It often starts in the cells lining the milk ducts inside your breasts.
Breast cancer stages
The most common way of classifying breast cancer is by stage. The tumor size determines breast cancer stages if it has spread to surrounding tissue or other body parts and whether it has spread to lymph nodes near the tumor.
Stage 0: In situ (pre-invasive) breast cancer
Stage 1: Infiltrating ductal carcinoma
Stage 2: Infiltrating lobular carcinoma
Stage 3: Infiltrating mixed ductal and lobular carcinoma
Male breast cancer
Male breast cancer is uncommon. It accounts for only 1% of all breast cancers.
Male breast cancer is not hereditary. Although some types of male breast cancer can be hereditary, there’s no family history of the disease in many cases.
Male breast cancer is not related to diet or exercise. No evidence eating more fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of male breast cancer, nor does being physically active help prevent it!
Breast cancer survival rate
The great news is that breast cancer’s survival rate is very high. It’s even higher if you can detect it early and treat it promptly. For example, a woman diagnosed with breast cancer at age 50 has an 80% chance of surviving five years and a 90% chance of surviving ten years, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
However, your chances aren’t as good if you’re diagnosed with breast cancer at age 25 or younger. In fact, according to NCI statistics from 2012-2014, for women ages 20-49 who were newly diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), less than half lived beyond five years after diagnosis—and only about 20 percent lived beyond ten years. This may be because younger women do not often think about getting regular screenings yet; they tend to have more dense breasts and then have more difficulty finding tumors earlier on in their lives; they tend not to receive chemotherapy as part of their treatment plan because they are healthier overall; etcetera.
Diagnosis of breast cancer
- Biopsy (optional)
Breast cancer treatment
- Radiation therapy
- Chemotherapy (chemo)
- Hormone therapy (HT)
- Targeted therapy
Breast cancer care
Breast cancer care is a multidisciplinary approach to treating breast cancer. Understanding the steps you can take toward early detection and treatment is important. Regular screenings, such as mammograms and clinical breast exams, help find tumors before they cause symptoms or spread. If you’re age 40 or older and haven’t had any symptoms of breast cancer, talk with your doctor about starting regular screening for breast cancer.
Risk factors for breast cancer
- Age is the most serious risk factor for breast cancer. The risk of having breast cancer increases with age, peaking in the 70s and 80s. Women who had their first menstrual period at an early age have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
- A family history of breast cancer is another major risk factor for this disease. If your mother or sisters had it, then there’s a higher chance that you’ll also develop it at some point in your lifetime. This is why genetic testing can be beneficial in determining whether or not you have inherited certain gene mutations that increase your risk of getting this disease.
- Race and ethnicity also play a significant role when it comes to determining your chances of getting this disease: Black women are probable than white women to get breast cancer; however, Hispanic women tend to develop more aggressive forms of the disease compared to Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders (Native Hawaiians).
Breast cancer prevention
It’s recommended that women get a baseline mammogram at the age of 40 and then every two years after.
A baseline mammogram is an X-ray of your breasts. It’s used to find out if you have any suspicious areas in your breast tissue, called cancerous tumors or lumps. A baseline mammogram also helps doctors decide how often future X-rays should be taken.
Breast cancer awareness
Breast cancer awareness is important because it’s the most prevailing cancer in women and the second most popular cause of cancer-related death. This year alone, more than 250,000 new cases will be diagnosed worldwide, and about 40,000 women will die from breast cancer.
Even though these statistics may seem scary, treatments available can help you fight back against this disease—and win! If you’re concerned about yourself or someone you love who’s been diagnosed with breast cancer, find out what options are available by contacting your doctor or checking out some helpful resources.
We hope this blog has answered all your questions about breast cancer and that you can feel more confident about protecting yourself against the disease. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us! We are always happy to help.